I’m a lucky girl. I get to look at this view every morning. See, I live at Ute Lake, in northeastern New Mexico, a place that few New Mexicans even know exists. Born and raised in Logan, and spent my summers on a boat on the water.
Thanks to Albert and Anna Lee Henry, there was an entire boatload of girls (Shelley, Glena, Robin, Louise and I, and sometimes others if we were inclined to include them) on the water every day when I was in high school. Some of my best memories are of those summers when we were young and fit and tan and happy – we were pretty sure that the world revolved around us. And of course it did. We learned self-sufficiency (yes, we could back and load the boat when we were hardly old enough to drive), cooperation (yes, we had to take turns skiing), how to watch the weather, how to find the coves with the cutest boys. . . Albert would fill the boat up with gas and turn it over to us and say, “Be in before dark!”
So yeah, Ute Lake is my home. It’s beautiful and precious to me. I’ve always said my favorite place in the world is in the bow of a boat racing across Ute Lake. Now that I’m 50, my favorite place tends to be on a floatie in a cove after we’ve anchored, but still. . .I love Ute Lake.
Today we’re having a protest at Ute Lake. It’s all about the possibility of Clovis and Portales building a pumping station on the south side of Ute Lake to eventually pump some of our water south to use for their municipalities. I’m torn – I know that water is an amazingly scarce resource in New Mexico, and all that cooperation I learned behind the Henry’s boat makes me wonder if we ought not to just smile and share. But those cities’ failure to guard their own resources (instead of blindly allowing their economic development to run rampant by inviting water-hungry companies to settle there) shouldn’t mean that my own local resources get diminished.
My greatest prayer (and certainty) these days is that the feds will never give them the money to complete their pipeline project, so it will all become moot at some point. But today, at 11:00, there will be a groundbreaking for a pumping station on the beautifully developed south side of Ute Lake, a pumping station that won’t have a pump in it. It will simply be an $11 million building that will not serve any purpose other than to be a blight on the local landscape. The Clovis mayor insists it’s their right to build it, but we’re all bewildered that this amount of money can be used to build a building that will, in all likelihood, never be used. It’s only symbolic, just a manifestation of the Water Authority’s determination to prove they can begin the project. Their own lobbyist has told them there’s no money in the federal budget for YEARS for this project; still, they’re building the building.
Get how distressed I am? From this point forward, I guess we’ll work hard to get the Interstate Streams Commission to establish a minimum pool at Ute Lake, so that if this pipeline folly ever actually gets their funding, we’ll know that a minimum level remains in the lake.
Today there will be about 500 of us, people from Logan, but also Ute Lake lovers from all over the state, Colorado, the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle – we’ll all line the road to the groundbreaking. We’ll let everyone know how much we care about our lake out here in the desert. And then I’ll let you know how it goes.
What I’d really rather do is go down to the Malco gas station, watch Albert gas up the boat, and then go out for the day with Shelley and Glena, Robin and Louise. I’d like for it to 1978 again, when there was no threat to our lake or our happiness. But it’s not 1978 and Albert isn’t here to get us ready for a day on the lake. So I guess I’ll get my protest signs out and head for the south side. It’s the least I can do to show my love for Ute Lake. See you there.