Changes to drought management plan proposed

Kevin Wilson

Proposed changes to the city’s drought management plan would leave most elements unchanged, but give more latitude to the city to take immediate action.

The ordinance, an amendment to Section 13.24.020 of the city code, is scheduled for introduction during a meeting Thursday of the Clovis City Commission.

City Commissioner Randy Crowder said the main changes to the plan would alter outdated or unclear language.

The city is currently in the first stage, tied to fall and summer months when water use is highest. The ordinance would change the dates to April 1-Oct. 1.

In line with water use, a Stage 2 Alert, Stage 3 Warning and Stage 4 Emergency can be declared by either the city manager at Stage 2 or the city commission for the third and fourth stages.

Use is measured at a percentage of provider capacity — a floating water amount based on what New Mexico American Water, the city’s provider, can pump in one day. Currently, that amount is 11.3 million gallons.

Stages are available based on consecutive days of use.

Previously, Crowder said, stages were tied to “demand deficiency,” but neither NMAW nor the state engineer’s office use those terms anymore.

The city manager can implement Stage 2 if there are three consecutive days of 85 percent use, and the city commission can implement the third and fourth stages. The city can, with commission action, go directly to the third or fourth stage without use of previous stages.

Also, Crowder said, “We give the city manager a little more leeway to use the drought management plan.” If a business or resident has a dire need, the city manager can make immediate adjustments and clear the action the next time the city commission meets.

With June’s swelling temperatures, it isn’t too difficult to envision the city going into mandatory conservation measures. Over the final 24 days of June, city water use was at 90 percent or higher for 17 days — and a 106-degree Sunday saw the city at 100 percent.

Brian Daly, operations manager for NMAW, said the company has been prepared and had full tanks throughout June, even on Sunday.

“From what I have seen,” Daly said, “we were full (Friday), and I didn’t need (city) assistance.”

The biggest impact on water use, Daly said, is unquestionably rain. Monday’s water use was 98 percent of capacity, and .25 inches of rainfall Monday night helped knock use down to 80 percent.

Crowder said funding is still being sought for an effluent reuse project, which would treat wastewater to a lower quality than drinking water but a suitable quality for watering city parks and schools. The city could reclaim as much as 4 million gallons per day for such purposes.

City Engineer Justin Howalt said the plans are complete, but he hasn’t written down a timeline for the project’s completion because of the lack of a funding source.

He gave a ballpark figure of two years, provided the money is in place.

Highlights of the city’s drought management plan

Stage 1: Runs April 1-Oct. 1.

• Measures are voluntary, unless otherwise noted.

• No government, school or church watering of outdoor landscape from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Watering allowed Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Handheld buckets can be used anytime, as well as reclaimed water and grey water.

• No residential watering of outdoor landscape from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. No watering on Mondays. Residents at odd-numbered addresses can water Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Residents of even-numbered addresses can water Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Handheld buckets can be used anytime, as well as reclaimed water and grey water.

• No watering of golf courses from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

• Residential and city pools limited to one refilling.

• Residential vehicle washing allowed with bucket and shut-off hose.

• Ornamental fountains allowed if water is recirculated.

• Restaurants only serve water on request (mandatory).

• Water runoff from sprinklers prohibited (mandatory).

Stage 2: Usage of 85 percent of water capacity for three consecutive days.

• City Manager will issue announcement of Stage 2 Alert.

• Stage 1’s voluntary measures now mandatory. Written warning for first violation, increasing to $20, $50, $100 and $300 for further violations.

• Nurseries encouraged to use conservation practices, but exempt from irrigation restrictions.

• Construction projects limited to regulatory water usage guidelines. Only effluent or reclaimed water can be used for dust control.

Stage 3: Usage of 95 percent of water capacity for five consecutive days.

• City Commission must declare Stage 3 Warning.

• Government agencies can only water Tuesdays and Saturdays, and schools and churches can only water Wednesdays and Sundays. Watering allowed anytime with hand-held containers or drip irrigation, or with reclaimed or grey water.

• City swimming pools limited to water required for maintenance and chemical balance. Residential pools cannot be refilled and must be covered when not in use.

• All residential vehicle washing prohibited. Commercial car washes must use reclaimed or recycled water.

• Nurseries must reduce usage, but may use grey water to irrigate fruit trees, ground covers and ornamental trees and shrubs.

• Only greens, tee boxes and fairways may be watered at golf courses.

• Cemeteries may only water Tuesdays and Fridays.

• Filling and refilling prohibited for ornamental fountains.

Stage 4: Usage of 98 capacity for three consecutive days.

• City Commission must declare Stage 4 Emergency.

• Government, church and school watering prohibited except when essential to well-being of public or rare animals. Trees and shrubs may be watered with shut-off hose, hand-held containers or drip irrigation. Grey water may be used on fruit trees, ornamental trees and shrubs.

• City pools closed.

• Only greens and tee boxes may be watered at golf courses.

• No residential watering. Trees and shrubs may be watered with shut-off hose, hand-held containers or drip irrigation. Grey water may be used on fruit trees, ornamental trees and shrubs.