Program aimed at reducing water demands

CNJ staff

New Mexican-American Water Co. is teaming up with Clovis’ Water Conservation Advisory Committee on a public awareness program aimed at reducing demands for water over the summer months.

The water company is sending letters and running advertisements urging customers to water their lawns on designated days in hopes of reducing peak demand that puts a strain on infrastructure.

“Its a voluntary thing at this point, nothing mandatory,” said Kathy Wright, vice president of the water company.

If water levels were to drop significantly, or demand exceeds capacity, the city of Clovis could impose mandatory water usage guidelines, said Randy Crowder, city commissioner and chairman for the Advisory Committee.

“The Ogallala (Aquifer) is a declining resource,” Crowder said. “For the past two years we (the Advisory Committee) have taken a reactive position on water usage. This year, we chose to take a proactive position.”

Because the area saw a wet winter, the water company hasn’t seen the demand of recent years, Wright said, but it is still important to conserve.

“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve been getting rain. At this point the demands are not real high,” she said. For years, the water company saw a big spike in demand on Mondays, because many sprinkler system installers would set the systems to activate on that day.

At one point last summer, New Mexico-American ran ads strongly urging immediate conservation, stating water was at emergency levels. This year the company is taking a softer approach toward urging conservation.

The “Be Water Wise” campaign began in April and will end in July, with four different advertisements and several mailouts. The advertisements are light and humorous in nature, Wright said. A magnet in one of the mailouts will show consumers what days they should water their lawns.

“We’re just trying to do it as a proactive measure so that it doesn’t sound real negative,” Wright said.

Crowder said the city is in the first of four phases of a water conservation compliance code, which is strictly voluntary. Phase II is mandatory compliance of the city’s water usage guidelines and Phases III and IV are harsher guidelines, Crowder said.

“The purpose of the campaign is to get people in the habit of using water wisely,” he said. “We don’t want to get to Phase IV. I think that’s when the National Guard brings in bottled water.”

Residents of odd-numbered addresses are asked to limit watering to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Those with even-numbered addresses are asked to limit watering to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

The company requests that no one water on Mondays or from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on other days. Evaporation cuts down on the efficiency of watering during the hottest hours of the day, Wright said.

The company can hold about 10.5 million gallons of water in tanks, Wright said. If there were no more water to pump, that supply would last Clovis for about two days. When peak demand hit in previous years, the company would spend several days refilling before the next spike hit.

Water wise
• Local officials are asking residents of odd-numbered addresses to limit watering to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Those with even-numbered addresses are asked to limit watering to Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.