By Jack King
If Clovis residents don’t voluntarily reduce water consumption, they could face a water emergency in a week, city officials said Thursday at a press conference.
New Mexico-American Water officials announced Wednesday that since July 9 the company has been distributing between 1 million and 2.5 million gallons of water a day more than it has pumped from the ground. As a result, its storage tanks are about half full, and could get lower unless local users cooperate, they said.
Mayor David Lansford asked residents to stop all outside use of water through the weekend, then follow a list of conservative water use practices through August.
In Portales, the city has placed water restrictions on public entities.
“We’ve asked the schools and the university and us (the city) to not waste their landscape water — that’s all we’ve done,” Portales Public Works Director Tom Howell said.
Mayor Orlando Ortega said one of the city’s water well pumps broke down about a week ago and played into the decision to restrict water to public entities.
The restrictions are temporary, Ortega said, and a good dose of rainfall may persuade city officials to lift the restrictions.
The restrictions include rotating schedules for using water for landscaping.
Water restrictions have not been imposed on residents, and Howell said the city is not in any sort of water crisis situation.
“We’ve been holding pretty decent,” he said.
Ortega added that the city enforced similar temporary restrictions a couple of times last year.
Clovis City Manager Raymond Mondragon said the city is asking for voluntary compliance, but will assess the effectiveness of the voluntary program next week. If New Mexico-American’s storage tanks aren’t filling up sufficiently, the City Commission will consider passing a water conservation ordinance immediately, he said.
New Mexico-American Water vice president Kathy Wright attributed Clovis’ water the emergency was caused by a July without rain — the first time in nearly a century of record keeping that has occurred in Clovis, according to the National Weather Service — and growth in the company’s customer base.
New Mexico-American Water officials said the company plans to add six to seven wells in the next two years plus increase its above-ground water capacity.