Residents hope for support at water meeting

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Rosemary Metcalf picks up a young alpaca Tuesday to place back under the shade with the rest of the herd. Metcalf chose alpacas because they didn’t require as much water as other animals, but her well is having problems despite conservation efforts.

Sharna Johnson

Residents of south Clovis are hoping their neighbors will stand with them at a hearing Tuesday night to take the first step toward finding a solution to water woes gripping their area.

The hearing, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Lockwood Elementary School, is open for anyone in the southern areas of Clovis and Curry County who is experiencing water shortages and related issues.

State officials have said while all of Curry County is facing imminent water crisis, the southern region, from Brady Avenue to the Roosevelt County line, is already experiencing problems with dropping water levels and wells going dry.

After approaching the county for help about a month ago, south Clovis resident Darlene Upham said she has tried to contact as many of her neighbors as she could to encourage them to attend the meeting.

Living on Curry Road M for almost 30 years, in recent years, Upham has had to replace one well that went dry and said her well has 13 feet of water left in it and is depleting at three feet a year.

In the years she has lived there, Upham said she has watched residents move away or be forced to haul water in because their wells have gone dry.

But she said she is afraid people won’t go to the meeting and water in the area will continue to deteriorate if they can’t get assistance.

“I’ve talked to a few (neighbors) and asked them if they would come. It’s hard because if people admit there’s no water and they want to sell, they can’t sell,” she said. “But to me it would be better to see if we can do something about the water problems.”

The purpose of the meeting is to make contact with residents in the affected region, find out how many are affected and gather documentation on the problems they are facing with their wells so the county can take steps to have an emergency declared by the state, said Rachel Visser, county grant coordinator.

Letters were sent to 32 residents in the area near Upham. However, Visser said anyone in that area is welcome to attend and encouraged to bring copies of any well testing they have had done.

“That will show it’s getting rather crucial (and) that we need to do something about it,” she said.

Documentation from the last 18 months showing issues with well water levels are important, Visser said, to be able to show the problem exists.

“It’s hard when you’re dealing with wells because it’s not as drastic. It’s nothing that you can see necessarily with your eyes,” Visser said.

If the area is declared to be in an emergency situation, the county can apply for a grant of up to $500,000 to help resolve the problems, she said.

Visser said minutes will be taken at the meeting and all comments and documentation will be recorded as documentation for the process.

Rosemary Metcalf owns an alpaca farm near Upham’s property. She said in the last few years her water pressure has declined and she is concerned about the future.

“Whether or not you see problems in your house with the water, the water is diminishing. There are people who have lost water and you never know when it’s going to be you next,” she said.

Even with efforts to conserve, she said there have been years when the Metcalf’s well has pumped sand and she said if they are watering outside their home, the water in the house stops.

Metcalf said one of the reasons she chose to raise alpacas when her family purchased their land in 2000 was because the animals consume less water than cattle or horses.

She said she hopes a large number of her neighbors attend the meeting.

“I’m concerned about the meeting, (that enough people won’t go) because they’re worried if they admit they have problems on their property, their property’s going to be devalued,” she said.

“There’s people out there that know they have problems. You can’t stick your head in the sand and expect the problems to go away.”