Water demands problematic

Liliana Castillo

By Liliana Castillo

Freedom New Mexico

Clovis and Portales officials are asking residents to watch their water use this weekend and during the summer.

New Mexico American Water said Clovis residents consumed 10.8 million gallons per day on Wednesday and Thursday. That’s close to NMAW’s per day production capacity of 11.3 million gallons, according to External Affairs Manager Evan Jacobs.

Jacobs said water use often multiplies when temperatures are high.

“It’s not just Clovis, it’s everywhere,” Jacobs said. “And most of the use is outdoors. People irrigate, use water to play in, to cool off.”

Jacobs said NMAW contacted large users such as the city of Clovis and Clovis Municipal Schools and asked them to curtail water consumption.

Jacobs said there is concern about meeting demand today and Sunday in Clovis due to a lack of rain this year and hot, dry days.

“We are encouraging everyone to always use water wisely,” Jacobs said. “We’re asking that people put a special focus on it in the next couple of days.”

Portales City Manager Tom Howell said the city provides water to residents and has enacted a mandatory watering restrictions effective Thursday.

Howell said failure to follow the watering schedule will result in disconnection of water service.

“Basically, what would happen if someone were to violate it (the schedule), we’re not just going to run and shut off their water. We’ll talk to them and give them a few chances,” Howell said.

Howell said if a residents water is turned off, it won’t be turned back on until they talk to city officials.

“With the intense heat and lack of rain, demand is getting higher. By going to a mandatory watering schedule, it’s given us the opportunity to balance our load so we don’t have everyone trying to use all the water on one day,” Howell said.

Howell said he wasn’t aware of how many gallons per day the city consumes. He said he gauges use by watching levels in the city’s storage tank.

“We can tell how it’s moving and what has happened is that traditionally we have 9 million gallons of storage. The first of the week, we dip into that storage. The last of the week, we replenish our storage. That’s not happening now,” he said. “We’re not getting the replenishing we need so we’re trying to cut back.”

Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said residents need to be aware of the issue.

“There is reason for concern but not alarm at this time,” Thomas said. “We’re within a few percentage points of their (NMAW) capacity. We can’t continue to increase the demand by any amount.

Thomas said with several activities taking place each weekend, water use is often higher.

So far in June, New Mexico American Water has seen higher total daily consumption, averaging 9.95 million gallons per day, than anytime in the last six years.

For example, in June 2007, the average daily demand was 6.2 million gallons per day. In June 2008, which had the next highest daily demand in the last six years, demand averaged 9.5 million gallons per day.

Thomas said 2011 has been an unusual year weather-wise.

“It’s been an unusual year as far as the amount of rainfall we’ve gotten as far as what would be considered average,” he said. “People are trying to maintain landscape as much as possible. If we’d had an occasional rain shower, they wouldn’t have to water as much as they are.”