City asking residents to conserve water
A scorching summer heat and lack of precipitation prompted city officials and New Mexico American Water personnel on Tuesday to ask Clovis residents to be frugal with their water.
Kathy Wright, vice president and manager of New Mexico American Water, said water wells that feed kitchen sinks, shower heads and outdoor hoses in Clovis are “currently pumping at their capacity.”
She’s asking residents to refrain from watering their yards between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., when the temperatures are at peak levels. The company is also making other conservation requests, all voluntary for now.
Clovis’ high was 99 degrees on Tuesday, the National Weather Service reported. Clovis received .22 of an inch of precipitation this month. The average for June is 2.63 inches.
The increase demand of water in the city, and long stretches without rain in the summer have caused the supply crunch — mainly because more people are watering more lawns at the wrong times, she said.
She said wells are pumping about 10 million gallons a day, up from about 5 million a day during the winter months.
There are 33 water wells pumping daily for Clovis residents, but American Water officials said they are in the process of putting more wells online.
The city of Portales — which has less than half the residents as Clovis — uses 24 wells, Portales officials said. In Portales the best wells pump between 225 and 350 gallons a minute. Some Clovis wells pump at 450 gallons a minute, American Water officials said.
Wright said there should be an additional four wells online for Clovis in the next several months.
“We’re currently working on more wells,” she said. “We have a pretty aggressive program going. We will continually work on new wells each year. We’re not going to stop at a certain number. We’re going forward.”
Wright said there was an electrical shutdown that recently put seven wells temporarily out of order, which may not have caused the lowering water supply but “certainly didn’t help any.”
Dan Swopes, Portales utilities superintendent, said the city is also having problems pumping enough water for residential use.
“We’re using more than we can pump,” Swopes said. “We’ve asked the schools to restrict their water use (for landscaping).”
Unlike Portales, Clovis is one of the few cities in the state that receives its water through a private company.
In August, Clovis faced a similar situation with its water supply and asked residents to conserve. The request brought the water levels back to par, Clovis City Manager Ray Mondragon said.
“We want the citizens to comply like they did last year, that they manage their water usage,” Mondragon said. “A lot of times you drive down the street and see the water draining down the curb line and so forth. In the past it didn’t used to bother us. It does now because of how precious water has become.”
The Clovis city commission last fall passed an ordinance pertaining to water conservation. The ordinance outlines four stages of conservation.
The first stage — which the city is under now — means the water supply or capacity is approaching levels at which water rationing would be required. Under stage one, city officials ask residents for their voluntary support in conserving water.
Stages two through four involves mandatory restrictions on water use. The city manager can make the decision to go to stage two after demand deficiency for water exceeds 15 percent. Stage three will be in effect when demand deficiency exceeds 26 percent and stage four when demand deficiency exceeds 35 percent.
Mondragon said isn’t sure what the demand deficiency is now, but said the city isn’t near stage two water restrictions.
“I don’t think we’re close to that level,” he said.