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Portales residents asked to conserve water

Jared Tucker: Portales News-Tribune The city of Portales announced water restrictions Thursday on its digital billboard outside city hall. City Manager Tom Howell said there is not a water crisis, but problems with two pumps at the city well mean less production. One of the pumps is expected to be fixed today.

Jared Tucker

Portales residents are under water restriction because two pumps at one of the city’s well fields are malfunctioning.

The city issued a stage two water rationing alert Thursday and is asking residents to stop watering lawns until two pumps are repaired or replaced and the level of the city’s water tank reaches 20 feet.

City Manager Tom Howell said it’s hard to tell when the restriction will be lifted, but the first pump should be fixed and back to normal production today. Then, he said, the other pump will be pulled and replaced.

Howell said the problem is not a water shortage.

Howell said with the two pumps’ decreasing production, the city is using more water than can be pumped back into the city storage tank.

“What that’s done is cost us about four to five-hundred gallons a minute that we’re used to having. Then you add in the hot weather, it makes the demand higher,” Howell said.

Howell said the city’s water tank is 35 feet deep, and generally maintains a level around 34 feet. He said water alerts are issued when the level drops below 20 feet and the city’s drought contingency plan is implemented.

“It’s actually below that now, between eighteen and nineteen feet,” Howell said.

Howell said approximately 80 percent of summer water consumption is for irrigation purposes and that is why lawn watering is the first to be restricted.

Howell said the cost of each pump will range between $4,000 and $7,000 depending on the horsepower. That price includes paying the contractors, he said.

Kurt Janes, owner of GardenSource Nursery and Landscaping, said the restrictions aren’t bad news for business, since most of his inventory has been sold by this time of the year. Janes said he will be putting mulch around all of his trees and shrubs to keep moisture in the pots, and advised residents to do the same.

“The objective is to retain moisture in the ground as long as possible,” Janes said.

When restrictions are not in place, Janes also recommends deep watering trees and shrubs with just a hose, and not a sprinkler. That way, he said, people won’t have to water as often.

Howell said the city has only issued water restrictions once or twice in the past five years, and most residents are very cooperative.