Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Conservation district officials to take look at Clovis water issues

Staff writer

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Conservation district officials around the state will get a first-hand look at Clovis’ challenges, and potential solutions, on long-term water supply issues.

Officials will meet in Clovis and travel throughout Curry County as part of the annual New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts conference, scheduled Tuesday through Thursday next week. Between 150 and 200 are expected to attend the conference.

The NMACD is a private non-profit that works to support its members among the state’s 48 water and soil conservation districts, with duties focused on work in the New Mexico Legislature, Congress and other government entities, and to find and coordinate training and funding opportunities for its members.

Debbie Hughes, who has been executive director of the association for about 20 years, said Clovis last hosted the conference about 12 years ago, and hosting is usually split evenly between the state’s six regions.

Each district is charged with conservation and development of its natural resources, in line with protecting its tax base and promoting health, safety and general welfare for New Mexicans.

Clovis belongs to the Central Curry Conservation District, while Portales belongs to the Roosevelt Conservation District and Elida to the Border Conservation District. All three, plus Quay County, belong to Region V along with Guadalupe and De Baca counties.

The Central Curry district is comprised of a clerk and seven board members. Board chair John Wood said hosting the conference does help the district in a point system that distributes funding, but the larger benefit is exposure for the district and water issues.

The conference begins with Tuesday afternoon and evening meetings for the association’s board of directors and resolutions committee at the Clovis La Quinta.

Wednesday and Thursday events will move to the Clovis Civic Center. Wednesday morning events feature a town hall on water issues, while the afternoon will feature separate meetings for contractors, councils and staff, and a “follow the water” tour of area farms, businesses and the New Mexico State University Ag Science Center north of Clovis.

Thursday’s events close with a 90-minute association business meeting. During that meeting, Wood and Hughes said, the districts vote on resolutions that outline membership views on existing and proposed policies.

Mayor David Lansford said he hasn’t been requested to do any presentations or speeches, beyond the ceremonial duties of welcoming the conference participants to Clovis and what he felt was an obligation to thank the association for its work helping Clovis with the New Mexico Ogallala Preservation and Conservation Initiative. It is one of many projects in the running to split up $400 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Lansford is hoping for funding that would pay farmers to convert land from irrigated farming to dryland farming for three consecutive years.

“We’ve been working with the city of Clovis and the county,” Hughes said. “We did submit a proposal to try to get some additional funding. We have asked for a waiver for five years; I don’t know if we’ll get that or not. (If we don’t), we could apply again (the following year). Hopefully, it will help augment the activities going on down there, like the (Ute Water Project) and the city trying to use grey water (with an effluent reuse pipeline system).”

Lansford said the city will likely first hear of the application’s fate from the association, and Hughes said she has been told by the USDA to expect a decision around Nov. 14.

Much of the business will take place after Election Day sorts out the balance of power in Santa Fe and Washington, D.C., but Hughes said whatever happens Tuesday changes little about the association’s goals and methods.

“Our issues are something everybody can support,” Hughes said. “We just try to figure out who’s in charge and work with who the voters selected.”