Board hopes turf change offsets costs

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

In an effort to cut down on water costs the Clovis Water Policy Advisory Board will recommend to the city commission seeding certain parks with water-saving grass.

The board unanimously approved Tuesday the recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Department during its regular monthly meeting.

Clovis Parks and Recreation Director Rob Carter said replacing the fescue grass on fields such as Greene Acres Park with Bermuda grass would reduce water costs. He said the department’s water budget increases annually. The department had a $180,000 water budget for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, according to Carter. He said the department is requesting a $210,000 water budget for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

“To convert to Bermuda, we will see that number drop dramatically,” he said.

Bermuda grass is also drought tolerant and does not require as much maintenance as fescue, said Lance Switzer during the meeting. Switzer owns a turf farm in Clovis and was at the meeting to help answer questions.

Carter said Bermuda grass would also be a better surface to play than fescue grass, which is too high.

“(Soccer players) would love to see the playability similar (to fields) in Lubbock or Hobbs,” he said.

Carter said there is no timeline for when the re-seeding could start if the commission approves the recommendation.

“We’ll just have to look at our budget and make our decisions from there,” he said.

Water Policy Advisory Board member Charles Guthals said while Bermuda thrives in the spring and summer months, it is susceptible to wear and tear during the fall.

“There’s a potential for playing in a muddy field with worn down grass in the fall,” he said.

In other business:

• New Mexico American Water General Manager Kathy Wright said she expects the Public Regulation Commission to set a hearing date regarding a water rate increase request for November.

She said water levels in wells have dropped an average of two feet since June 2007. She said water usage is estimated at 10 million gallons a day while the company’s capacity is at 12.7 million a day.

• City Manager Joe Thomas said Cannon Air Force Base could join in the city’s wind farm project.

“The Air Force is very interested in any type of renewable energy,” he said. “Cannon has really taken an interest in this.”

The wind farm project proposes to build a six megawatt wind farm on city property near the landfill, according to city officials. The electricity produced would power city facilities and the excess could be sold.