City leading state in water conservation projects

By Christina Calloway
Senior writer

Portales officials say the city is leading the state in water conservation projects with the construction of a new Wastewater Treatment Plant and Reuse Center.
Portales Public Works Director John DeSha said other communities of similar size are considering taking on similar projects in an effort to reuse and preserve water.
“We’re the starting point for all this,” said DeSha of the 400 by 275-foot project.
The $27 million project, which was awarded one of the largest loans the New Mexico Environment Department’s Construction Program Bureau has issued, will take a little more than a year to complete.

Based on the city’s population, DeSha said the city’s well field has a life of 13 years at current consumption. With the construction of the plant and conservation efforts put forth by citizens, DeSha predicts the city can extend the life of the well field by 25 percent, the equivalent of four more years.
Portales Mayor Sharon King said this is one of the largest projects in the city’s history and a game-changer in water conservation.
“It’s a piece of the puzzle to solve our water problems,” King said. “By using the effluent water with the reuse center, it will save us a great deal in our wells.”

King added there are other projects underway to improve the city’s water situation.
“Between conservation and reuse of water, the Ute project and the drilling of more wells, it takes all of those to where we’re in a comfortable place with our water levels,” King said.

The treatment structure being built will do the job of the six water treatment pools the city uses now.
“Most of the ponds will go out of service,” DeSha said. “We’re reducing the size and increasing the quality of the treatment.”
From the treatment center, the water will travel to a storage center and then onto the reuse center.
The reuse center will serve two purposes; to water the city’s parks, cemetery and schools, and it will be sold to construction companies.
DeSha said bulk water prices will be determined by the cost of running the plant.
The reuse center will pump water to the parks through an underground pipe system. The construction of the system will be done in the next phase of the project and DeSha said the city plans to request bids for that portion in the next month or so.