Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Alamogordo Regional Water Supply Project

What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

An Environmental Impact Statement is an analysis of the ways that a proposed project might impact environmental and socioeconomic resources. In general, when a project will take place on federal land or be paid for with federal funds, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) requires that an EIS be prepared as the basis for determining whether the project should be undertaken. NEPA is the nation’s broadest environmental law. It applies to all federal agencies and most of the activities they manage, regulate, or fund that affect the human environment. An EIS also analyzes the potential effects of any proposed alternatives to a project, including the No Action alternative, that is, not doing anything at all.

Why is an EIS required for the Alamogordo Regional Water Supply Project?

While the City of Alamogordo is the sponsor of the proposed Project, the Project proposes to develop and operate 10 wells on land under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approximately 10 miles north of Tularosa, New Mexico, to run water transmission lines within BLM right-of-way from the wells to a water treatment facility, and to use funds provided by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for part of the Project's cost. NEPA requires that the BLM and Reclamation base their decisions about whether to grant right-of-way permission and allocate funds for the Project on the results of an assessment of environmental impacts. The BLM and Reclamation have determined that an EIS must be prepared to comply with all aspects of NEPA, since the proposed Project could have significant environmental impacts within the project area.

EIS Project Management Team

City of Alamogordo ...............Sponsor of the Project
BLM ........................................Federal Lead Agency for the Project

The BLM and the City have contracted with SWCA Environmental Consultants of Albuquerque to assist with the preparation of the required EIS.

The purpose of this EIS is to:

  • Evaluate the potential for environmental and socioeconomic impacts that could result from the Project .
  • Compare and analyze Project alternatives, including the consequences of not developing the Project.
  • Provide the BLM with information for making their decisions.
  • Track and document the process used to reach those decisions.
  • Provide the public with all of this information.

To meet the purpose and need of the Project, this EIS will also identify:

  • Location(s) of wells that would supply water for the Project and would be permittable at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Location(s) of water transmission lines from the wells to a treatment facility.
  • Location of a treatment facility.
  • Water treatment methods .
  • Method(s) for managing concentrate generated from the water treatment process.
  • Location(s) of water transmission line(s) from the treatment facility to the Alamogordo region customers.

What decisions will result from the EIS?

Based on the results of the impact analyses in the EIS, the BLM will decide whether to grant the City right-of-way across BLM land for Project for pipelines and wells, and Reclamation will decide whether to provide partial funding the Project. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) encourages public involvement as a way to help federal agencies make good decisions about drinking water projects. Our project team believes that a successful Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) incorporates a broad range of public viewpoints.