Leger Fernandez touts federal funding for water project

[anvplayer video=”5085616″ station=”998127″]

CLOVIS, N.M. – Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez visited a section of a regional water pipeline under construction, a project that will receive funding from a federal infrastructure bill.

A first-term Democrat representing New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, got a glimpse of the work being done while standing alongside Clovis Mayor Mike Morris.

The pipeline is part of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, which will deliver water from an intake facility at the Ute Reservoir down to communities in Curry and Roosevelt counties as well as the Cannon Air Force Base.

In addition to the Air Force base, the communities of Clovis, Portales, Texaco and Elida will be among those that receive water service. Currently, they are provided with much of their water from the Ogallala Aquifer. The federal government has warned the Aquifer that spans several western states, is experiencing declining water levels.

Ledger Fernandez said roughly 75% of the $687 million price tag of the project will be covered by federal funding sources, including money from the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill signed into law in November. The state and local governments are providing the rest.

Along with the $335 million New Mexico will receive for water projects under the infrastructure bill, the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, will receive additional dollars from a $1 billion fund for western water projects in the infrastructure package.

“What we are doing today and in the next several years is putting the federal money in to help get this project completed so that these communities will have reliable water for drinking, municipal and industrial uses,” Fernandez said.

Before additional money from the infrastructure bill was allocated, Fernandez said the project was projected to be completed within 18 years. Since the infusion of funding from the infrastructure bill the timeline has shrunk to between 5 and 8 years.

Morris said the benefits the project will provide people, businesses and municipalities are immense.

“As the Aquifer continues to decline, it’s vital that we complete this project and that we are connected to the renewable water source that is the Ute Reservoir,” he said.

In all, the federal infrastructure bill is slated to bring $3.7 billion to New Mexico.