Multi-million dollar investment to help ease pressure on Ogallala aquifer

Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 6:49 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A vital resource is set to flow into eastern New Mexico.

The federal government is investing millions of dollars to make sure there is clean drinking water for the foreseeable future.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland made a trip to New Mexico today to announce a $17 million investment in water infrastructure by the federal government.

“Water is life,” Haaland said. “It’s essential for feeding families, for growing crops, and for sustaining wildlife and for powering agriculture.”

$7 million of the investment will go towards building the Ute pipeline which is expected to bring clean drinking water to tens of thousands of people across eastern New Mexico.

“This project will lay 151 miles of pipeline and deliver a reliable supply from the Ute reservoir,” Haaland said.

That new source of drinkable water will take pressure off the Ogallala Aquifer.

The same aquifer supplying water to Texas’ South Plains and Panhandle regions.

“Drought conditions are causing the Ogallala aquifer to dry up,” Haaland said. “Threatening local water supplies for many towns and cities across the region.”

That threat affects communities in New Mexico and Texas.

“We all understand that we’re using to much of the water in the Ogallala aquifer,” Clovis Mayor Mike Morris said. “Not just here, but through Texas and going up north.”

Morris says the water from the Ute Reservoir will be filtered at a treatment center to be built in Grady New Mexico and will supply more than 70,000 residents.

“The raw water brought from the reservoir will come in there, be treated, and then from there it flows in the pipeline that we’re standing above right now,” Morris said. “It will flow in this pipeline and into our member communities.”

That facility will be partially covered by $10 million of the $17 million from the federal government.

Adding to the more than $220 million already invested in the project over the past 2 years.

“That’s what its going to take,” Morris said. “To extend the life of that aquifer.”

The influx of federal dollars for this project is expected to have it finished by 2029.