City begins water conservation campaign

By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer

Drive around Portales and you will see many front yards covered in dark green grass.

Those dark green lawns suck up thousands of gallons of water each summer, paid for in higher water bills.

The city of Portales wants residents to learn how to conserve water, in the yard and in the house.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, councilors discussed the possibility of issuing a water conservation resolution. They also approved a bid for changing two agricultural wells to municipal wells.

The city is among several eastern New Mexico communities working to develop the Ute Water Project as a renewable water source. City officials have implemented planned rate increases, in part to encourage water conservation.

City officials said the majority of water used during the summer is for lawn care.

The city will offer brochures with water-saving tips each week through August, said Nicole Wilkening, community affairs coordinator for the city. Water saving tips also will be listed on the city’s Web site, www.portalesnm.org.

“Water is an issue,” she said. “We have to conserve it and be aware of our water use. Little things you can do can save a lot and extend the supply as we work toward a long-term water source,” Wilkening said.

“Water is an important resource,” she said. “We can’t live without it.”

Barbara Palantone, who lives on Kansas Drive, said she installed her xeriscape front yard about four years ago for its low maintenance and water savings.

Low-growing junipers carpet much of the yard, accented by Russian sage and other sages, lantana and other flowers, trees and shrubs.
She said the plants took about three years to become well-established.

Curt Jaynes, who with his wife Lisa, owns Garden Source Nursery and Landscaping, said his store has offered xeriscape plants since it opened in 2003.

“We see more interest every year,” he said. “Xeriscape doesn’t have to mean ‘zeroscape.’ There are many beautiful desert plants that will do wonderfully around here.”

Jaynes offered some tips for using water wisely in the landscape.

“Deep water trees and shrubs less often,” he said. “This will help take roots deeper into the soil.”

Jaynes said the ideal times to water lawns are from 7-9 p.m. and 4-8 a.m.

Jaynes also recommends mulching landscape plants to help conserve water.