Don’t water your lawn every day. Don’t wash your car every weekend. Don’t use your dishwasher until it’s full. Save water whenever you can.
Those are common-sense ideas to follow any day in the arid West, but they take on more urgency today. If we don’t follow them, we may have serious water shortages in the near future in Clovis.
By all accounts, Clovis’ water situation is temporary and the proposed conservation methods precautionary. Yet those requests we heard from city officials and New Mexico-American Water Company representatives last week were sobering. We knew water-supply issues were on the horizon; we just did not know they might limit our water-use habits this soon.
The city and water company officials assure us we still have plenty of water and the utility company can still pump it from the ground. It’s just a little slow coming out right now.
The reasons are the combination of record-setting dry weather — no rain in July, for the first time in a century of record- keeping — and the water company doesn’t have enough pumping capacity to pull enough water out of the ground to meet the subsequent extra demand. That led to Wednesday’s request that we reduce water usage through this weekend, first, and then through August.
Hopefully, all of us hooked up to New Mexico-American’s system will heed the request to cut our outdoor water use until the weather cools and seasonal rains begin to fall. If all that happens, we’ll be swimming in liquid again by football season.
Let’s not sleep through this wakeup call. For that’s what this is.
Eastern New Mexico’s main water source, the Ogallala Aquifer, is estimated to have just a few decades of life-giving liquid left. Most hydrologists predict major water regional shortages in 35 to 40 years if our water-usage rate does not change and no other water sources come on line.
Sincere conservation efforts — recycling, limiting use to essential needs, more efficient irrigation systems, for example — will extend the life of the aquifer. In turn that will help extend the use of the proposed Ute Pipeline, which would be built to bring water from Ute Lake through Quay County and down to these quiet plains for another century or so.
Even when the pipeline is built — it will cost about $212 million and take about eight years to complete — there will never be a substitute for water conservation.
While agriculture consumes about 95 percent of the precious resource in this region, agriculture is also the lifeblood of our economy. City residents must share the conservation burden as a supplement to the ag industry’s efforts to do the same.
For most of us, no matter if we live in the city or out in the country, conservation from now on should equal common sense. That means we turn off the faucet while we brush our teeth. And it means we take shorter showers, water the yard less, wash the pickup and car less. Every drop helps.
Remember that when you drink a glass of water.