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Eddy approves emergency money

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Eddy County is expected to pay over $1 million for the next four years to try and fix the South Y Brine Well located south of Carlsbad.

Jon Henry

Last weekend, the Eddy County Commission held a special meeting to approve the funding which is expected to cost $43 million for the remediation work.

County records show that nearly a decade ago the Oil Conservation Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department required the former I&W Oil Company to shut down their brine production well near the intersection of two major U.S. highways in south Carlsbad.

The OCD continues to monitor the well and right now various entities are trying to come up with the money to fix the problem.

District 2 Commissioner Jon Henry said they’ve been hearing various things that the well could collapse sooner or later.

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“It is an emergency,” he said. “If it was to fall tomorrow or in three years, you’d still have to fill it.”

“There were some things proposed that didn’t make it,” Henry said of some legislation that was kicked around earlier in this year’s New Mexico Legislative session.

He said there was some work being done by a number of representatives that needed some immediate attention last week.

“They called and said ‘we have until Sunday to present a new bill, they (state government) are wanting more monies allocated from the city (of Carlsbad) and the county, this is what we’ve gotta get done, or at least to get it moving again,’ Henry said.

He added that some of that new legislation has passed from the committee stage and onto the floor.

The special Eddy County Commission meeting in Carlsbad was held last Saturday.

“We just appreciate all the hard work our legislators from this area have put into getting us another chance at hopefully getting this fixed,” Henry said. “It’s been a lot of work for them to get it done, it was a crunch in the end to get them a new bill to be able to be dropped.”

Henry’s district takes in most of the Artesia area and the brine well is nearly 60 miles away. Henry said if this caves in, the entire county would feel the impact.

“If something happens to it, I’ve heard anywhere from $750 million to $1 billion dollars of the economy could be lost,” he said. “You’re talking farms, 25,000 acres of farmland would be lost because a water ditch runs right there. If that falls in, farmers aren’t getting the water they need to grow their alfalfa and cotton out there.”

He also said that rail service in the county would also be impacted and U.S. Highways 62/180 and 285 would also be impacted.

“That road carries a ton of folks going to the oilfield right now. I talk to a number of people from Artesia that travel across it everyday going to work. That’s where a lot of people are heading right now,” Henry said.

“If that number is $750 million, the economy would be devastated,” he added.

Henry said the state would also be devastated as well as some of the new oil money that has been coming into the state’s bank account is coming from that portion of southeastern New Mexico.

“It’s in Carlsbad, but the problem is a Carlsbad, Eddy (County), state problem and it needs to be treated that way,” Henry said.

Henry said the Carlsbad City Council held a meeting last Friday and approved another $4 million during the same timeframe as well.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.

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