Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summit takes in depth look at water practices

Summit takes in depth look at water practices June 29, 2016 By Douglas Clark Staff writer dclark@cnjonline.com 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.

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