Water officials holding conservation workshop

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Public Works Director Clint Bunch said the city is conscientious in maintaining its parks and grounds, using the minimal water needed to keep things green and be conservative at the same time.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Water officials are holding a community workshop Monday to talk with residents about conservation as summer approaches.

New Mexico American Water Vice President and Manager Kathy Wright said the meeting will be conducted seminar-style and is intended to be informative and positive.

“We always look for ways to try to connect with our customers,” she said. “We’ve not ever done a lot of meetings except in relation to rate case’s. We thought doing a conservation workshop … is an opportunity to give out more information.”

Wright said water use doubles in Clovis during summer months. She said the timing is good to talk about conserving water and NMAW programs, such as rebates for energy saving measures available to customers.

There will also be information on the number of wells NMAW has available and on new research and testing taking place to explore aquifers deeper than the one currently being tapped.

Wright said NMAW is working with a test well to evaluate water in an aquifer about 1500 feet below the Ogallala Aquifer.

Wright said by Labor Day, the utility expects to have an idea if the water there is usable or brackish. If the water is brackish, the utility will explore whether there are possibilities for diluting it to make it useful.

Water and state experts have said the Ogallala Aquifer is being drained and the region will be facing a water crisis in coming years if a solution isn’t found.

“There’s no one solution that’s going to solve the water issue in our area,” Wright said, explaining a combination of conservation, exploring other sources and the Ute Water Pipeline project are a necessary combination of measures to resolve water concerns.

NMAW is also launching its annual outdoor watering schedule of odd number addresses watering Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and even numbers the remaining days.

In April, the State Engineer’s office announced it was granting the water utility’s request for expedited emergency authorization to combine water rights.

Officials said the utility’s request was approved because the company said it may not be able to meet the city’s water needs after May 10.

NMAW has said a crisis point has not yet been reached and the combined rights will only be used in the event of an emergency.

Clovis’ Public Works Director Clint Bunch said the city does its share of conserving water, approaching the issue with a sensitivity to water concerns.

The city maintains 27 parks and recreation areas, plus facilities and offices.

Some of the parks are serviced by wells, while others are on NMAW water.

Bunch said many of the parks’ watering systems are on timers and the others are carefully monitored to make sure watering is conscientious.

Watering needs to be done to keep parks and grounds appealing and manicured, he said.

“We only water when necessary,” he said. “There’s a fine line with how much to use and we’ve got pretty expert personnel that keep pretty good track of that.”

And some city properties, such as the grounds at the Clovis Area Transport System building, have been partially xeriscaped using rock and low-water plants to landscape, he said.

Every bit of waste water going through the city’s treatment plant —which processes 3 million gallons of water a day — is reused, Bunch said.

The city has a contract with a farmer near the plant who uses treated water from lagoons to irrigate his crops.

And even solid waste is used to fertilize grounds in the city.

The city is also working on a water reuse project that would make that treated water available for use irrigation and industrial use in the city, he said.