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Area residents express concern over Ute Lake pipeline

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ELIDA - With explosives set to go off near some area homes in just over a month, area residents are speaking out.

Representatives from all over Eastern New Mexico packed into the tiny town hall in Elide, and were met by the Concerned Citizens of Curry and Roosevelt Counties.

"This pipeline has been deliberated for over fifty years, but there are some new conditions for the board to consider," said Gary Neal, consultant for CCCRC.

The pipeline itself would stretch over 90 miles, carrying surface water from the Ute Lake reservoir all the way down to Portales, Clovis, Elida, and surrounding areas.

One concern is the effect on water levels of the lake. The local economy depends on it for tourism income. Another concern is the effect on fish and wildlife there. And last but not least, the projected $600 million price tag that the project requires.

"The concerned citizens are just interested in financial accountability and has that money been secured from the federal government? Are we getting into something that we can't get out of," Neal said.

The Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority says area residents will only pay 10 percent of that. Seventy-five percent will come from federal dollars and the rest from the state.

After 50 years of planning, ENMWUA thinks it will be money well spent.

"This is the solution to the Eastern New Mexico water supply," said ENMWUA Chairwoman Gayla Brumfield. "We're running out of water in the Ogalalla aquifer and we need to act fast."

The Concerned Citizens group will make a full presentation April 12thin Portales asking the board to halt the project before the end of April, when explosives are planned to blast the lake to make way for phase one of the pipeline.

"We've planned this very diligently and considered every single thing about this plan," Brumfield said. "This is the best option to sustain the water supply."

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