Wednesday, July 20, 2016
EPA Research Shows Moderate or Severe Corrosion in Majority of Diesel Fuel Underground Storage Tank Systems Studied
CONTACT: Mollie Lemon email@example.com 202-343-9859 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 20, 2016 EPA Research Shows Moderate or Severe Corrosion in Majority of Diesel Fuel Underground Storage Tank Systems Studied Agency Calls on Tank Owners to Check for Corrosion WASHINGTON – In a report released today on corrosion inside diesel fuel underground storage tanks (USTs), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found moderate or severe corrosion that could affect metal components inside both steel and fiberglass underground tank systems. Corrosion inside USTs can cause equipment failure by preventing proper operation of release detection and prevention equipment. If left unchecked, corrosion could cause UST system failures and releases, which could lead to groundwater contamination. Underground tank releases have historically been a leading cause of groundwater contamination. Groundwater is a source of drinking water for almost half of the people in the U.S. EPA’s report shows that 35 of 42 – or 83 percent – of the USTs studied exhibited moderate or severe corrosion, but less than 25 percent of owners were aware of corrosion prior to the internal inspection. Although EPA cannot project the actual percentage of USTs storing diesel that are affected by corrosion nationwide, the Agency is alerting owners of USTs storing diesel fuel about risks from corrosion. EPA’s notification recommends owners check inside their tank systems and further investigate the condition of their diesel fuel tanks. Owners’ awareness and early actions could help protect them from higher repair costs and help protect the environment from contamination from releases. EPA’s UST website (https://www.epa.gov/ust) provides information on actions tank owners can take to minimize corrosion and associated risks. As part of EPA’s ongoing collaboration with the UST community, the Agency responded to concerns about reports of severe corrosion in USTs storing diesel fuel by working with industry and scientific experts to develop this research. The results are leading to a fuller understanding of the issue and possible causes, as well as laying the groundwork for future research efforts for identifying a solution. Scientific evidence has not identified a specific cause of corrosion in diesel tanks, although microbiologically-influenced corrosion is suspected to be involved. EPA is continuing to work collaboratively with partners in the UST community, industry, and scientific experts on additional laboratory research about the cause of corrosion. More information on underground storage tanks (USTs) and today’s report: https://www.epa.gov/ust More information on corrosion in USTs storing diesel fuel: https://www.epa.gov/ust/alternative-fuels-and-underground-storage-tanks-usts#tab-5 R120
Friday, July 15, 2016
New Mexico ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT, SURFACE WATER QUALITY BUREAU PROPOSES TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (TMDLs) FOR THE LOWER PECOS WATERSHED NOTICE OF A 30-DAY PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD AND COMMUNITY MEETING
Surface Water Quality Bureau Total Maximum Daily Loads ________________________________________ New Mexico ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT, SURFACE WATER QUALITY BUREAU PROPOSES TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOADS (TMDLs) FOR THE LOWER PECOS WATERSHED NOTICE OF A 30-DAY PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD AND COMMUNITY MEETING The New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) Surface Water Quality Bureau (SWQB) is inviting the public to comment on the draft “Total Maximum Daily Load” (TMDL) document for the Lower Pecos watershed. Draft TMDLs in this document include: Pecos River (TX border to Black River) – E. coli Pecos River (Black River to Six Mile Dam Lake) – E. coli A TMDL is a planning document that establishes specific goals to meet water quality standards in waterbodies where pollutant limits are exceeded. It includes current pollution loadings, reduction estimates for pollutants, information on probable sources of pollution, and suggestions to restore or protect the health of the waterbody. The 30-day comment period on this document will open July 15, 2016 and will close August 15, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. MDT. Formal comments for inclusion in the public record must be submitted in writing to Rachel Jankowitz, mailing address NMED SWQB, P.O. Box 5469, Santa Fe, NM, 87502; voice: 505-827-0417; fax number (505) 827-0160; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (if possible, please submit an electronic copy in addition to paper). A public meeting will be held to summarize the information and to provide a forum for interested parties to ask questions and provide comments; the meeting date will allow the public time to review the document. The meeting will be held in Carlsbad on Wednesday, July 27 from 6-8pm at the Riverwalk Recreation Center, 400 Riverwalk Drive. Following the close of the comment period, copies of the Response to Comments will be: • Mailed to all persons who submitted written comments during the public comment period; and • Available electronically on the bureau’s website or by contacting the bureau at the address above. The SWQB plans to request approval of the draft final TMDLs at the Water Quality Control Commission’s (WQCC) regularly scheduled meeting on October 11, 2016. WQCC agendas are available at: http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/wqcc/index.html. Persons having a disability and needing help in being a part of this process should contact Juan-Carlos Borrego at least 10 days before the event, at the NMED, Human Resources Bureau, P.O. Box 5469, 1190 St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87502, telephone 505-827-0424. TDY users please access his number via the New Mexico Relay Network at 1-800-659-8331. For more information, please contact Rachel Jankowitz at the address or phone number provided above. ________________________________________ TMDL and Assessment Team: Meghan Bell Meghan.email@example.com or 505-827-0669 https://www.env.nm.gov/swqb/
Friday, July 8, 2016
Thursday, July 14, 2016 9:00am-5:00pm Chama Senior Center, Chama, NM (between Lowe's Supermarket & Chevron) Workshop Topics include: • State & county laws and liabilities pertaining to prescribed burning • Smoke management requirements • Weather issues related to burning • Burn plan requirements • Funding assistance opportunities • Acequia burning • Pile burning panel on effectiveness & safety Lunch provided, please sign-up in advance at http://nmrxfire.nmsu.edu/ or RSVP to Chama District, NM State Forestry, 575-588-7831 firstname.lastname@example.org or Don Kearney, 575-405-2387, JerseyNewt@yahoo.com.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Tuesday, July 5, 2016 8:10 am | Updated: 12:27 pm, Tue Jul 5, 2016. By David Crowder El Paso Inc. staff writer | 0 comments DELL CITY – El Paso Water Utilities is making its first big buy in Hudspeth County’s Dell Valley, reviving worries among residents and small landowners about the future of the farming oasis in the desert. The utility was scheduled to sign the deal last Thursday, buying the 26,470-acre Chambers Lynch Ranch for $50 million, but advised El Paso Inc. that the closing was postponed and pushed into this week. Once purchased, the land will be leased out for farming. El Paso just wants what lies beneath it. And that purchase will be followed by others as El Paso Water – the utility’s new name – moves ahead with its long-term plan to import water from counties to the east in West Texas. The pending acquisition of the Lynch Ranch became public two weeks ago when the Hudspeth County Underground Water Conservation District board unanimously approved transferring the ranch’s water-use validation permits to the El Paso utility. Responding to El Paso Inc.’s questions about further acquisitions, the utility issued a statement: “We are in negotiations with several property owners in Hudspeth County to purchase land at this time. “Since we are in negotiations, we are not at liberty to disclose any specifics, including property owner names.” John Balliew, the utility’s president and CEO, later elaborated, in a phone interview, saying, “We have sent letters to probably a dozen different property owners in the Dell City area asking them if they would be interested in selling their property. “Some, of course, said no. Some of them have resulted in starting conversations.” El Paso’s need One of the best-known members of the Lynch family in Hudspeth and El Paso counties is Laura Lynch, who stays busy renting cabins in Dell City to tourists – cabins she is renovating herself, one by one. She has a friendly take on the sale of the ranch her father and his two brothers started in 1950. It’s still run by her 93-year-old uncle, James Lynch. The website www.theclranch.com describes the ranch. “It could not go into better hands,” she said, referring to El Paso Water. “They are the gold standard in the United States for water utilities when it comes to stewardship. “That’s what created this opportunity, and the city needs the water.” The $50 million to buy the ranch comes in the form of a low-interest loan approved last year by the Texas Water Development Board from the state’s $2 billion State Water Implementation Fund, better known as the SWIFT Fund. The utility has applied to borrow $100 million more for additional land purchases in Dell Valley and future pipeline rights of way. In all, the utility expects to spend $600 million on land acquisition and infrastructure in coming years before it starts importing water. Green fields Dell City is 95 miles east of El Paso on the way to Carlsbad and 12 miles north of Highway 62 on Farm Road 1437. It’s all cactus, creosote and sandy dirt until the farm road rises to the valley’s edge, revealing an expanse of green fields as far as the eye can see. There are 21,000 acres under cultivation in Dell Valley, almost all of it in alfalfa. Fields are watered by low, pivoting sprinkler arms – some half a mile long – that gush onto thirsty fields. Mounted on wheels, the arms move so slowly, it’s hard to tell they are moving at all. But the valley is not a quiet place. The guttural rattle and roar of big, unmuffled motors that power the many wells is everywhere. A Dell City sign says the population is 413, but residents know it’s really about half that today. It was bigger in its early days, as described in a Life Magazine article from December 1950: “Last fortnight, plunk in the center of what had been a desert, the 1,000 citizens of a thriving new town called Dell City opened a new highway to the outside world.” Inside the town’s only eatery, the Spanish Angel Café, four men sit at their regular table a little after noon, talking about anything and everything. It doesn’t take much to turn the conversation to water and the sale of the second biggest ranch in the district to El Paso. Craig Gentry, a member of the local school board, said he and other farmers are concerned that they didn’t get purchase offers from El Paso Water. “They did the big ones, but there’s a bunch of us guys that have smaller acreages and nobody approached any of us,” he said. “If all these big outfits sell out, that could hurt us.” His father, Gerald Gentry, added, “They could squeeze us out.” Steve Rader is the owner of a small plant that packages specialty hay originally from New Zealand called Chaffhaye. He said he needs to expand but wonders if he should do it somewhere else. “This just throws a bunch of uncertainty into play,” he said. “People who have businesses out here might want to sell, and the first thing the buyer’s going to ask is what’s the water situation? “And you go, well, I don’t know.” Assurances Balliew has offered assurances to property owners that the utility’s interest in buying land now does not signal a shift in the utility’s long-range plan to begin water importation in the year 2050 or later. “It does not represent any kind of change,” he told El Paso Inc. last week. “You can’t just go from zero to importation in a short period of time. “What we’re doing is we’re taking advantage of the low cost of borrowing money at this point in time, which not only is reflective of the economy in general but also the availability of the SWIFT fund, to use that to purchase water-rights land that is available right now in the Dell City.” El Paso Water, a semi-autonomous utility governed by the Public Service Board, already owns 101,706 acres of land, which includes 26,159 acres in El Paso County and 868 acres in New Mexico. Then there are two sprawling water ranches and a working farm amounting to 74,677 acres that the utility has acquired in the past 25 years in Hudspeth, Presidio, Jeff Davis and Culbertson counties. “There are three principle pieces of property,” Balliew said. “There’s one in the Valentine area, one more or less in the Van Horn area and one that is southeast of Dell City that we generally refer to as Diablo Farms.” Known for looking 50 years into the future, El Paso Water laid plans more than a decade ago to link the water ranches by pipeline running north to the Dell Valley and then down to El Paso, 95 miles away. An earlier version of the plan called for importation to start sooner, but the utility’s construction of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant in 2007 and other water-stretching measures made it possible to push importation to 2050 or later. But it could come sooner depending on El Paso’s growth and the availability of water from the Rio Grande, which has furnished more than half of El Paso’s annual needs in most years since 1990. The 2016 Far West Texas Water Plan projects that El Paso County’s population, now at 835,600, will reach 925,500 by 2020 and 1.5 million by 2070. Owens Valley One of the wonders of Dell Valley’s Bone Springs-Victorio Peak Aquifer is that it recharges each year, replacing the water extracted for agricultural purposes. Some Dell Valley residents are afraid that El Paso Water will own enough land and take enough water to effectively end farming in the valley. They point to Las Angeles’ appropriation of Owens Valley water in the early 1950s. Balliew said that is not the utility’s aim at all. The land the utility acquires that is now being farmed will be leased out for farming – to the current owners, if they’re interested in staying in business, he said. “What I would tell you about how the future would look is probably not much different than it looks today,” Balliew said. “Once we start importation, we’re not going to start full blast and the whole thing dries up overnight. “There is renewable water there, which means it’s recharged, and we would use it to the extent that it is recharged. There will be a long period when we’re not taking any water.” The Far West Texas Water Plan for 2050 calls for the utility to acquire enough land to export 10,000 acre-feet of water a year. “Then, there will be a long period of time even after we start that there’ll be enough water for the exportation and the local agriculture production,” Balliew said. In recent years, Dell Valley farms have been using more than 90,000 acre-feet a year – more than the 75,000 acre-feet than is considered sustainable. Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at email@example.com or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622. © 2016 El Paso Inc.. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Subject: Heat Illness Prevention 2016 It’s summer and with the increasing summer heat, it is important to review the precautions to prevent heat related illnesses, which can occur when the body is unable to cool itself efficiently. Heat illnesses are serious medical conditions that can lead to death if the body’s core temperature is not cooled down promptly. The risks are particularly high for individuals who work outdoors. Personal factors such as chronic health conditions, age, prescription medications, etc. can also inhibit the body’s ability to cool itself during warm weather. Employees should know the illness symptoms and prevention methods when working outside 1. Heat Illness Symptoms Early Symptoms – Heat Exhaustion • Fatigue • Heavy sweating • Headache, Cramps, Dizziness • High pulse rate • Nausea or vomiting First Aid / Emergency What to do • Move to cooler location • Lie down, loosen clothing • Apply cool, wet cloths • Sip water • If vomiting, seek medical attention immediately Life-threatening Symptoms – Heat Stroke • High body temperature (above 103 F) • Red, hot, and dry skin • Confusion • Convulsions • Fainting First Aid / Emergency What to do • Call 911 immediately – this is medical emergency • Move to cooler location • Reduce body temp with cool cloths, ice, bath, etc. • Do NOT give fluids 2. Heat Illness Prevention Measures • Drink water frequently, every 15 minutes. Drink one quart (4 cups) of water per hour while in the heat. Don’t wait until you get thirsty. • Wear light-weight/loose-fitting clothing. Include bandana; UV-absorbent sunglasses; and a wide brimmed hat or cap. • Take frequent breaks. Five (5) minute breaks in the cool shade or inside an air-conditioned building will allow the body to recover quickly from heat stress. • Wear sunscreen. A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays. • Be mindful of medication side effects. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist if there are any adverse effects to being in the sun/heat while on prescription medication. Posters have been placed in several facilities on main campus, and are available on the http://safety.nmsu.edu (links below). If you, your staff or researchers work outdoors or are exposed to the summer heat for extended periods, please print, review and distribute/post the following resources at http://safety.nmsu.edu/2016/06/its-hot-outside/ : • “It Hot Outside” - CDC Extreme Heat Brochure (brochure on EHS website, more CDC info http://www.cdc.gov/features/extremeheat/) • “Water Rest Shade” - OSHA Heat Safety Fact Sheet (on EHS website) • More heat stroke information at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000056.htm, http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/heat-stroke-treatment Supervisors are expected to ensure water availability, shade & rest breaks, an understand of the illness hazards and symptoms, and an emergency plan (what to do in a heat illness emergency). Please contact Environment, Health & Safety with any questions, concerns or requests for more information. David L. Shearer, Assistant Director, NMSU Environmental Health & Safety, Phone: 575-646-3327 EH&S web - http://safety.nmsu.edu Unprinted email is more sustainable. If you must print,'double side it'.
The National Drought Mitigation Center’s May 2016 Drought and Impact Summary is now available at http://drought.unl.edu/NewsOutreach/MonthlySummary/May2016DroughtandImpactSummary.aspx May highlights: In May, a steady improvement in conditions in northern California and western Nevada led to a reduction of extreme (D3) and severe (D4) drought in these areas, but below-normal precipitation in Tennessee, northern Alabama, and northern Georgia caused an expansion of moderate drought (D1) and an introduction of severe drought (D2). Deborah Wood National Drought Mitigation Center University of Nebraska-Lincoln 817 Hardin Hall 3310 Holdrege St. Lincoln, NE 68583-0988
UNM Student Developing Toolbox to Study Solute Transport in Jemez River‒Rio Grande Continuum by Catherine Ortega Klett, Program Manager The recent Animas River spill underscores the ongoing need to be able to describe contaminant concentrations in rivers from small upstream sources to large-current downstream reaches. This problem is being addressed by Betsy Summers, a Ph.D. student in UNM's Department of Civil Engineering, in collaboration with her faculty advisor, Dr. Ricardo González-Pinzón. Investigations of solute transport typically begin by injecting tracer material and following its concentration versus time and/or distance downstream. Due to the complexity of the transport of solutes, most tracer experiments are restricted to relatively small flow discharge rates and short transport lengths of half a kilometer or less. By tracking the downstream appearance of the tracer concentration as a function of time at a given location, one obtains what is called the breakthrough tracer curve (BTC). With this curve, one can infer important stream channel properties like geometry, resistance to flow, and the dispersive or mixing power of the flow, all of which provide the basis for constructing a model of solute transport in the stream. Applying tracer experiments to rivers is challenging on multiple fronts: 1) the mass of the tracer that has to be injected is a function of unknown or difficult-to-measure channel characteristics; 2) the observation of some solute transport processes such as decay and sorption may require extensive experimental lengths or multiple sampling points; 3) extreme conditions, like high turbidity, in the river can hinder the performance of instruments that emit ultraviolet light to measure reactive tracers like nitrate in real-time; and 4) streams and rivers have regions of strong secondary circulation and relatively stagnant “dead zones,” which reduce the efficiency of solute transport, giving long tails to the BTC curves. All these layers of complication make planning and carrying out tracer experiments very difficult, especially when we want to understand solute transport processes across entire watersheds or river continuums. In order to apply tracer experiments to a river continuum, Betsy Summers and Dr. González-Pinzón are using a systems engineering approach to combine various models and data in an Excel toolbox to better estimate travel times and the reactivity of ecologically important solutes. This approach integrates: 1) the Aggregated Dead Zone (ADZ) model (Beer and Young, 1983) for solute transport to account for the dead zone phenomenon; 2) a U.S. Geological Survey meta-analysis of tracer experiments conducted in more than 60 rivers of varying discharges and sizes across the U.S. (Jobson, 1997); and 3) the quantification of nutrient cycling and transport (“spiraling”) using the Tracer Addition for Spiraling Curve Characterization (TASCC) methodology (Covino et al., 2010). Summers and Dr. González-Pinzón are developing and validating this technique along the Jemez River‒Rio Grande continuum, which spans eight stream orders, corresponding to a thousand-fold increase in flow rate from the headwaters to the larger rivers. The objective of this research is to create a user-friendly computational toolbox capable of: 1) estimating injection mass needed to properly characterize a tracer BTC as a function of river discharge and longitudinal sampling distance; 2) predicting arrival time, time-to-peak concentration and mean travel time of a solute BTC as a function of longitudinal distance and discharge; 3) analyzing nutrient uptake kinetics along river reaches from short-term and plateau tracer injections; and 4) characterizing expected concentrations of contaminants in rivers as a function of observed upstream BTCs or known contaminant mass from short-term spills. Preliminary comparisons between conservative tracer BTC predictions with the experimental data show that the toolbox predicts travel times and the mass to be injected in a tracer experiment reasonably well along the continuum. Betsy Summers received a 2016 NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant and her final report on the project will be posted on the institute’s website in July 2016. To view, click here.
Scientists Confer on Effects of Colorado Mine Spill by Jane Moorman, NMSU News Service (Published in the Albuquerque Journal, June 6, 2016) FARMINGTON – Nine months after mining sludge from the Gold King Mine turned the Animas and San Juan rivers yellow, scientists and researchers gathered here recently to share what they have learned so far regarding the contamination of the rivers from the spill in August 2015. “Immediately during and after the Gold King Mine spill, different groups started monitoring the river water, shores and irrigation systems,” said Sam Fernald, director of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute at New Mexico State University. “As they have gathered data, they realized there are a lot of questions about the history of the watersheds, the natural state of the rivers, and the long-term impact. They immediately came up with all of these questions beyond the initial response,” Fernald said. The conference last month at San Juan College was a time for 150 scientists from state and federal agencies, New Mexico universities, Native American tribes and numerous cities and counties to exchange information from their early stages of research. While the spill sparked fear among those whose livelihood depends on the water, it has proven to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the scientists. “This was a historic event,” said Kevin Lombard, a horticulturalist stationed at NMSU’s Agricultural Science Center at Farmington who is conducting two studies regarding the impact of the spill on the agricultural land. “We have the opportunity to record the impact of the contaminants that were in the mining sludge.” Recording of the impact is proving to be a collaboration of researchers. “We have a common goal of figuring out what the questions are and figuring out how to address them and how to get the information out to the public,” Fernald said. Since the spill, the scientists have gathered data regarding river water quality before, during and after the spill; private wells accessing groundwater; the impact of the water quality on the fish; and the impact of irrigated river water on the agricultural land. The greatest challenge is the perception of health risks that the spill caused. The early finding is that the levels of heavy metals being monitored are within federal standards. Only when rainwater increases the rivers’ water levels do the metal levels increase briefly from the riverbank contamination in Colorado. Conference collaborators in the long-term monitoring include the NM Water Resources Research Institute, the state Environment Department, NMSU, UNM, New Mexico Tech, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, San Juan Soil and Water Conservation District, San Juan Watershed Group, San Juan County, the City of Aztec and the City of Farmington.
This week the state agency in charge of building a controversial diversion on the Gila River has reined in earlier – and costlier – plans for capturing the river’s water. The agency’s decision might mean good news for project critics who feared its environmental consequences and high cost. But many questions remain around how much money the state has to build the project, the location and scale of the diversion, and who would buy the water once it’s built. At a meeting on Tuesday, the New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity, or NMCAPE, directed its engineering contractor to continue studying only those projects that would cost $80-100 million to build. That’s how much funding New Mexico anticipates receiving from the federal government to develop water from the Gila and perhaps its tributary, the San Francisco River. With that vote, the NMCAPE officially rejected earlier large-scale plans, including one with an estimated billion dollar price tag. By tamping down the budget, the board also acknowledged that the project will be smaller – and not one capable of delivering all 14,000 acre feet of water the state has rights to under federal law. “We just want to create something new, that will be a benefit to New Mexico,” NMCAPE chair Darr Shannon told NMID. A Hidalgo County Commissioner, Shannon represents the Hidalgo Soil and Water Conservation District on the board. “We have visions of helping New Mexico’s municipalities and smaller communities, and to create a revenue source.” Pete Domenici, Jr., the board’s attorney, told members during Tuesday’s NMCAPE meeting if the entity goes over the $100 million in federal money to plan, study, and build its project, “I don’t know where the money is going to come from.” But it’s not clear how much of that estimated $100 million will be left in the fund when the time comes to break ground. The state has already spent millions on engineering contractors, attorneys, salaries, grants, meetings, and studies. Domenici estimated between $10 million and $15 million has been spent when asked by NMID, but deferred to the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission’s (ISC) Craig Roepke for a more precise number. Roepke would not answer during the meeting, citing the agency’s media policy. The agency’s Public Information Officer Melissa Dosher later wrote in an email that only $5,647,077.26 has been spent. But that figure does not include contracts for services or grants that have been signed but not yet paid. Critics of the diversion greeted the board’s decision to pare back plans as good news, but said much uncertainty remains. “We’re certainly pleased that they seem to be saying ‘no’ to the very expensive diversion up by Turkey Creek in the roadless area, but there are still lots of unanswered questions and potentially, some significant impacts in terms of cost as well as the environment,” said Allyson Siwik, executive director of the Gila Conservation Coalition. “We even heard the CAP Entity saying they’re going to have problems paying for the operation and management costs of pumping; there are still a lot of questions in terms of where they’re heading.” Shannon and some other board members, as well as executive director Anthony Gutierrez, point out that once the project has been built, they could generate revenue by selling water. No buyers have been identified, but Gutierrez says that’s not a concern right now. Water is always valuable, he says, especially during times of drought. Plans still on the table range from storing Gila River water either in a reservoir on Spar Canyon or in ponds on existing farmland – to diverting water from the river and storing it underground for later use. Another option would rely on existing infrastructure owned by mining company Freeport-McMoRan, including the Bill Evans Reservoir. This week, the ISC also presented its work plan budget on the Gila for Fiscal Year 2017. Exceeding $12 million, the estimated budget includes engineering services ($1.85 million), environmental compliance studies ($810,000), public outreach services ($16,000), legal services ($340,000), and grant funding for projects like irrigation improvements and municipal water conservation ($9.1 million.) The Gila project has been decades in the making. In a Supreme Court decision nearly seven decades ago, New Mexico was promised additional water rights from the Colorado River, but only if someone in Arizona were willing to trade Colorado River water for water from the Gila or San Francisco rivers. The 2004 Arizona Waters Settlement Act allowed New Mexico to trade with Arizona’s Gila River Indian Community – and gave state officials 10 years to decide if they would meet water demands in Grant, Luna, Hidalgo, and Catron counties through efficiency and conservation or by building a diversion on the Gila River. In 2014, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission voted to pursue the diversion alternative. The NMCAPE was formed in 2015. It works in cooperation with the Interstate Stream Commission, but is its own, separate agency. Each NMCAPE board member represents a county, city, agency, or irrigation district that has committed to building, financing, and operating the diversion. To receive all of the federal funding promised under the 2004 act, the state has until December 2019 to come up with a plan and complete studies required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
Summit takes in depth look at water practices June 29, 2016 By Douglas Clark Staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org Deemed by organizers as the launch point for future action on local water sustainability, Wednesday’s Eastern New Mexico Water Conservation Summit offered an in depth look at present practices with an eye toward potential sourcing options. The day-long effort, comprised of guest presenters and a pair of panel discussions, was held at the Clovis Civic Center and sponsored by the City of Clovis, the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation, Curry County, the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority and EPCOR Water. “This issue is something that has always been very dear to me,” said Curry County rancher and Clovis Water Policy Advisory committee member Vincent DeMaio, who addressed the assembly Wednesday. “At the end of the day, the gorilla in the room is agriculture. We (agriculture industry) are the 80 percent user, so we have to be leaders in determining how we got to this point, managing where we are now and planning to address the issues that lie ahead. We actually have a reclamation system in place right here. We’ve got the filters. These playa lakes we’ve got are significant assets — so we have an opportunity to reclaim water in an efficient, beneficial way that allows us to be great stewards of the land.” New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources Senior Field Geologist Geoffrey Rawling also served as a presenter. “Something I think would be very useful for this area that has been done in Kansas and Texas is the concept of the aquifer lifetime map,” he said. “It’s basically lading a map showing expected lifetime of the aquifer until it’s unusable and basically the criteria is the saturated thickness you need to operate large irrigation wells, preferably 30 to 40 feet. If you know the thickness of the aquifer and have water level data from time dropping or changing, you can do a calculation and there is enough data here to execute this.” New Mexico State Engineer Tom Blaine said calculating the amount of water currently provides a a point of origin as it relates to gauging what is available. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” he said. “Measuring water in New Mexico is extremely important. We’ve started a program measuring all of the surface water and we have many basins completed with surface water aversion and metering. All of the metering comes back to the central office and we publish it on the website.” Blaine said its time to broaden the scope of thought as it relates to water conservation. “I recently spoke with the head of the Texas Water Development Board,” he said. “And one of the things we talked about is looking at this as a regional problem and not as a state problem. We need to expand our solutions to include the regional problem. New Mexico is on the western fringe of the Ogallala formation. We need to change the way we think sometimes.” Other presenters included Daniel B. Stephens & Associates Hedrogeologist Amy Ewing, Common Ground Capital, Inc. Chief Project Officer Stephanie Manes and New Mexico Land Conservancy Conservation Director Beth Mills. Officials said summit attendees would receive electronic copies of each of the presentations as an informational resource in line with the end goal of securing water sustainability.