Robert Arrowsmith: Numbers without context say little

Robert Arrowsmith

Robert Arrowsmith

By Robert Arrowsmith

CMI Publisher

I have to admit, there have been some interesting ideas recently on ways the public can conserve water, including purchasing low-flow toilets.
You know me by now; I love to look at numbers and different ways to interpret them.

Did you know, according to a 2010 report by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission, that 1.53 percent of the total water usage in Roosevelt County is public water supply? In Quay County, it was 3.71 percent, and in Curry County it was 4.69 percent.

In other words, for every gallon of water used, up to 6 ounces is public water supply.

Can the public do more to conserve? Of course we can, including the idea of low-flow toilets. But doing any one step alone would appear to literally be nothing more than a drop in the bucket.

Too often, and I have also commented on this before, we look at numbers and think “Wow, that’s a big number; it must have an impact.” The example I have used before is the federal deficit. Billions in spending cuts, or billions in tax increases on a $14 trillion deficit was the one I frequently picked on.

Sounds like a whole lot of money, but isn’t even a chip on a rock when you think about the impact by itself.

I don’t invent the wheel when it comes to … well, frankly, anything. If I interpret something a certain way, someone else has as well. Interpretation leads to perception, which we all know leads to belief, which leads ultimately to fact for those that interpret.

If this way of looking at numbers came to my head, someone else somewhere in the world thought the same thing.

When I was in school, I always loved numbers because I believe there was concrete evidence that something had to be true. The numbers I was taught spoke for themselves. The reality is they do, depending on the parameters you are looking for.

Don’t get me wrong, I want there to be enough water for everyone. I had space to write, and numbers are always in my head. I am also a believer of maximum, efficient, bang for my buck just like I’m assuming everyone else does.

Dollars can be hard to come by for many in this area, and we hope for the highest return on our investment of those dollars.

I just hope every possible consideration is being taken as we go forward.

Robert Arrowsmith is publisher of Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

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