Logan Village Manager Larry Wallin helped make the case for a new attack on salt cedar, an non-native bush that soaks away thousands of acre-feet of water from the Canadian River watershed every year.
Wallin’s presentation was Nov. 12 before the Quay County Commission.
He brought three officials of the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority with him to talk about their success from eliminating salt cedar from lands along the watershed, which began in 2004.
Wallin made a similar appeal to the Ute Reservoir Water Commission the week before at its meeting in Grady.
Led by Kent Satterwhite, general manager of the CRMWA, the delegation told commissioners they have treated 4,800 acres to eliminate salt cedar, which could save the same amount of water every year — 24,000 acre-feet — that URWC members are authorized to take from the Ute reservoir. An acre foot the volume of one acre of land with a foot of water, and is equivalent to 325,861 gallons, about the amount of water that four average households use in a year.
The Texas presenters noted that in 10 years, Salt Cedar control efforts on both sides of the state line had cleared more than 29,000 acres at a cost of about $3.6 million. Using the 4-to-7-acre-foot savings per acre number, that would mean savings of 116,000 to 203,000 acre-feet of water per year.
When there was normal rainfall, Satterwhite said, salt cedar reductions seemed to account for rises of several feet in water tables at some Texas locations.
He noted, however, that if there is no rainfall, it is hard to measure the effects of salt cedar elimination.
The group said CRMWA used spray delivered by helicopter in areas where salt cedar did not share space with more beneficial plants, and used beetles that selectively prey on salt cedar in others. In isolated areas where salt cedar mixes with beneficial plants, crews spray the salt cedar plants individually.
Since the Canadian River flows into Texas, the CRMWA delegates said they would like to see more salt cedar eradication between Ute Lake and the Texas border. Wallin said that while some salt cedar reductions have been successful around Ute Reservoir, more are needed, especially along Ute Creek and between Conchas Dam and Ute Lake.
Lake Meredith, which is formed by a dam on the Canadian River in Texas, has suffered huge water losses during the current drought. When full, Lake Meredith is designed to contain 500,000 acre-feet level at a depth of 102 feet. As of Monday, Lake Meredith’s depth was 33.76 feet, or 30,420 acre ft.
The commission also:
• Approved a $100,000 grant from the New Mexico Fire Marshal’s office to help buy a 3,000-gallon tanker truck for the Bard Fire Department.
• Approved a contract with Engineers Inc. for paving Quay Road 63. Richard Primrose, county manager, previously estimated the cost of the engineering contract as between $71,000 and $72,000.