City, water co-op seek voluntary conservation

By Sarah Meyer, PNT Staff Writer

The city of Portales and Roosevelt County Water Cooperative are asking customers to voluntarily conserve water through an odd-even watering schedule.

City officials say customers seem to be using more water because of the hot, dry windy weather, trying to keep their yards green.

“When everybody decides to water at once, it drains the tanks,” said Tom Howell, public works director.

“Last week, water levels dropped drastically in our tanks,” said City Manager Debi Lee.

City officials said Friday the city’s three water storage tanks with a combined capacity of 9 million gallons are down to 3 million gallons.

City officials have estimated that during the summer, 80 percent of water usage is for landscaping.

The city and co-op are asking customers to voluntarily comply with an alternate day watering schedule.

Even-numbered addresses can water on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday; odd-numbered addresses on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, with no watering on Friday, said Nicole Wilkening, community affairs coordinator for the city.

Howell said the city’s water supply is constant, but a more even usage will help keep acceptable water levels in the city’s tanks “so we don’t end up with big drops in pressure,” Howell said.

“We just need a little help from the public so the water doesn’t drop below acceptable levels,” said Lee.

“We just ask people to use common sense,” said City Councilor Ron Jackson. “We need to try to maintain a certain amount in the tanks.”

He said the city adopts a voluntary water conservation plan every summer, and it has never been mandatory. Conservation also will help prolong the life of the city’s wells, he said.

The water co-op seeks cooperation, too.

“We buy all of our water through the city,” said RCWC General Manager Rick Leal. “If it affects us, it affects our customers.”
The co-op serves 1,300 customers.

Leal said the measures are “precautionary” at this time.

“We’re not in a serious mode right now,” he said.

Residents also need to be aware of when they’re watering, Howell said.

“People need to realize that if they’re watering on a hot, windy day, they’re just wasting water,” he said. “The best times to water are early in the morning and late in the evening.”

Customers also are asked to avoid over-watering. A good sign of over-watering, Lee said, is if water runs into the street.

Lee said nationally, average residential water use is 6,000 gallons a month. In Portales, it’s 8,000.

Jackson said the city is looking at ways to conserve and possibly reuse water.