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N.M. Delegation Announces $15 Million In Funding For Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Supply Project

WASHINGTON (Feb. 6, 2020) – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), and Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) are announcing $15 million in federal funding for the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Supply Project.

The funding for the project, headed by the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority (ENMWUA), will be used to continue the construction of a water pipeline from Cannon Air Force Base to Portales. After working closely with the New Mexico delegation, ENMWUA will see an increase of $11.7 million for Fiscal Year 2020 from the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), triple the funding level from Fiscal Year 2019.

“Water supplies are precious in the West, which makes this investment all the more critical to ensuring people in Eastern New Mexico have access to clean drinking water,”said Udall, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Communities in Eastern New Mexico recognize that they are forced to rely on the overdrawn Ogallala aquifer, and developed the Ute Pipeline Project to fill an urgent need for reliable and sustainable water supplies. I am pleased to see this project move forward. For communities in New Mexico and others across the West, I have introduced the Western Water Security Act of 2019 with Senator Heinrich and Congresswoman Torres-Small. We must invest now in water conservation, cooperation, and drought response as climate change continues to endanger our most precious resource. Congress must move forward with this legislation because we owe it to our communities and our children to responsibly manage our water resources—so we can thrive in the American West for generations to come.”

“Tripling the federal investment in the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System is a major victory,” said Heinrich. “I have worked for more than a decade to increase federal funding for this major infrastructure project, also known as the Ute Pipeline Project, which is important to providing cities in eastern New Mexico and Cannon Air Force Base with affordable, clean water. We have known for a long time that pumping unlimited groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer is unsustainable. That’s why we must ensure that critical investments in this project remain funded so that eastern New Mexico can depend on a reliable water supply for generations to come.” 

The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System is a regional rural water supply project that was federally authorized in 2009, to provide potable water to seven member communities  and Cannon Air Force Base for municipal, commercial, and industrial use from a renewable surface water supply at Ute Reservoir. The member communities include the City of Clovis, Curry County, the Town of Elida, the Village of Grady, the Village of Melrose, the City of Portales, and the City of Texico. The project will replace current groundwater supplies from the Ogallala Aquifer with renewable sources from Ute Reservoir. The Fourth National Climate Assessment warns that producers are extracting water faster than it can be replenished and the aquifer should be considered non-renewable. 

"This major federal investment for the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Supply Project will bring much-needed resources and is a victory for the region. Tripling the federal funding available will ensure clean and sustainable water is available for decades,” said Luján. 

“Securing clean, reliable water is key for rural communities in eastern New Mexico. Tripling the federal investment in sustainable water infrastructure is a major win, especially for the residents of Portales who face continued water shortages and the confirmation of PFAS contamination in groundwater wells near Cannon Air Force,” said Torres Small. “I’m proud to collaborate with the New Mexico delegation and remain committed to protecting our precious water resources."

“New Mexicans know that water is a precious resource, but this incomplete project has been a road block to clean water access for communities in the Eastern part of the state. Funding this infrastructure will help Eastern New Mexico improve access to clean water for families, conserve water resources, and ensure our communities can thrive,” said Haaland. 

“We are very thankful for the allocation of 15 million dollars from the BOR for the Finished Water 3 (FW3) phase of the Interim Groundwater Project (IGWP). These dollars will be put to beneficial use immediately. We are also very grateful to the many individuals who have recognized the need and advocated for the accelerated completion of the IGWP,”said David Lansford, ENMWUA Chairman and Mayor of Clovis. 

“This water infrastructure project represents a shared vision that the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority has had for years to deliver affordable, clean water to our communities. I am incredibly excited to see this monumental increase in funding that will truly move this project forward. I thank Senator Heinrich and the entire New Mexico delegation for their efforts to help make this happen. This has truly been a team effort and I look forward to continue working together to have this project reach fruition,” said Ron Jackson, ENMWUA Vice-Chairman and Mayor of Portales.