Q: What is the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System Project?
A: The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System (ENMRWS) project includes a water intake facility to divert surface water from Ute Reservoir; a water treatment facility with an average capacity of 15 million gallons per day (mgd) and peak capacity of 28 mgd; over 90 miles of water supply pipes; and over 60 miles of lateral pipes to serve Grady, Melrose, Texico, Clovis, Portales, Elida, Curry County, Roosevelt County and Cannon Air Force Base. Its purpose is to address municipal and industrial water supply issues resulting from declining and deteriorating groundwater (aquifer) resources.
Q: Is there really a problem with the water supply in Eastern New Mexico?
A: Water levels in the Ogallala aquifer below Clovis, Portales, and surrounding communitieshave declined in excess of 100 feet in the past decades. In addition to the decline in water level (as much as 6 feet per year in some places), there is evidence of deteriorating water quality. Aggressive private and public water conservation measures have been and continue to be implemented. However, hydrologic experts predict the groundwater supply will not be able to sustain municipal activities in the near future.
Q: Are there any other options that would cost less?
A: Extensive studies of water supply alternatives have been completed over the last 50 years. Studies completed in 2005 and 2006, using the most current technology and data, thoroughly evaluated the most feasible alternatives. These ranged from diverting and treating water from Ute Reservoir; importing groundwater from Texas; pumping and treating brackish groundwater from underlying aquifers in Curry County; and continuing with the status quo (pumping groundwater from the Ogallala aquifer). The alternative to divert, treat, and convey renewable surface water from Ute Reservoir was found to have the lowest overall cost and greatest benefit.
Q: How will the ENMRWS project be paid for?
A: The project will be paid for with a combination of federal, state, and local funds. The current financial model is based on a 75% federal, 15% state, and 10% local contribution. The ENMRWS project was federally authorized in 2009. This authorization allows the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority (ENMWUA) to receive federal funding, which is vital to the success and completion of this project. The Authority works closely with local leaders, state legislators, and our New Mexico congressional delegation to secure continued funding for the project.
Q: How much funding has the ENMRWS project received?
A: Recognizing the critical need for this project, the State of New Mexico, the federal government, and members communities of the ENMWUA combined have invested over $45 million for program management, design, and construction. In May 2013, the New Mexico Water Trust Board awarded an additional $3.8 million to continue the program management, design, and construction. The majority of this investment has been in grants. Member communities of the ENMWUA have also provided significant financial and in-kind services including program and financial management, legal support, and administrative services.
Q: What is the status of the design of the ENMRWS project?
A: The overall project is at the 30% design level. Construction of the first phase of the Ute Reservoir water intake facility is nearly complete. The consulting engineer designing the project (CH2M HILL) has completed the final design of the water supply pipe connecting Clovis and Cannon Air Force Base. The water supply pipe that will connect Portales is currently being designed. It is anticipated that construction of these two pipes will begin the summer of 2015.