By Karl Terry: PNT managing editor
A $651,520 project to upgrade Eastern New Mexico University campus water facilities and equipment with more efficient equipment would pay for itself in seven years, according to school officials.
Regents gave approval to a 10-year water and utilities conservation project by Tour Andover Controls of Carrollton, Texas at their regular meeting Thursday in Portales.
Vice President for Business Affairs Scott Smart said the project, originally discussed in 2005, had gotten pushed to the back burner because of various other construction projects on campus that have been ongoing. But with the state engineer’s stamp of approval, he said the university is ready to tackle the project.
Smart said the state requires the project to demonstrate it will pay for itself in utility savings before it can be undertaken. With savings derived from TAC’s initial audit applied, including a $96,000 refund from the city of Portales for a meter that was registering inaccurately and annual savings of $40,000 from that discovery, the project will pay for itself, Smart said.
City water rates are projected to rise 6 percent for the next six years, according to a rate schedule approved this year by Portales City Council.
“It really benefited the campus that it took this long to do this,” Mike Moore, a representative of TAC said. “With the new buildings on campus we’re going to be able to make sure the project is done right.”
Smart said the irrigation system that will be installed can be adjusted to such things as rainy periods. The sprinkler fixtures installed will also be designed to maximize conservation savings.
Smart said at a utilities cost of $1.56 per square foot, ENMU is ranked best in the state among higher education facilities for conservation.
“It’s grossly unfair for some institutions to be frugal and others to be so careless in their use of utilities,” Regents President Jay Gurley said. “We would like to see ENMU rewarded at the state level for its stewardship.”
University President Steven Gamble told the board he had plans to remind state leaders of those facts during a meeting today at the Capitol.
In other business at their regular meeting Thursday in Portales, Eastern New Mexico University regents:
• Gave approval for the administration to pursue a new research and public service project through the state that would set up an English language institute at the university.
President Steven Gamble said the idea to seek $175,000 from the state to fund the project was spurred by the influx of Chinese students through an exchange program. He said the center would be something that could be utilized by any international student struggling with language or cultural barriers. Students would underwrite part of the cost through an institute fee.
According to Patrice Caldwell, executive director of planning and analysis, the institute would be the first full English as a Second Language institute in the state if approved. Gamble added that the facility would also be available for area public schools to use as well.
“It could be used as a marketing tool,” Regents President Jay Gurley said. “If you have a facility where international students feel comfortable it could be a very positive thing.”
• Heard a report from Gary Musgrave, vice president for student affairs, on an update to the student athlete handbook. The changes clarify that responsibility for play and practice decisions rest with the athletic director until an administrative hearing is scheduled for any athlete found in violation of handbook policy.
• Awarded a posthumous degree to Heidi Best from the college of agriculture. Best died this spring in an auto accident just short of the credits required for her degree.
• Heard a report about the renaming of the Speech and Hearing Clinic to Eastern New Mexico University Speech and Hearing Rehabilitation Outreach Center.
• Approved new policies concerning confidentiality of records and personal information and a loss prevention and control policy revision.
• Was presented an updated emergency procedures manual that is still pending state approval.