Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Officials have no summer water worries


July 5, 2017

Despite triple-digit temperatures, officials in eastern New Mexico are not worried about running out of water this summer.

City of Portales Public Works Director John DeSha said Portales residents and entities have done such a good job with conservation efforts in the last few years that Portales is in a much better position with water now than it has been in years with a steady decline in water consumption — it has dropped about 20 percent in the last few years.

DeSha said the city usually starts seeing water consumption increase at the end of April, because people are putting in gardens and filling swimming pools and beginning to water their yards.

On average, he said the city uses about 2 million gallons of water per day most of the year, but 3 million or 3.5 million gallons per day when it’s hot. The summertime increase is not enough to put the city in an emergency situation with water, DeSha said.

In fact, he said, he has only seen Portales in such a situation once since he came on board as director in 2011.

Charlie Sandoval, superintendent of the Tucumcari Water Department, said he is also not worried in regard to water loss.

“Last year, we were over 100 degrees for over a month,” he said, adding that the city’s water table has not shown that big a loss yet.

Tucumcari gets its water from the Entrada Sandstone Formation and an alluvial aquifer while Portales gets its water from the Ogallala Aquifer.

“We have been monitoring these things for years, and we have never shown a dramatic decrease,” he said. “In the summer time, it does decrease, but once the well rests, it recharges. It’s stayed about the same for years.”

He said a lot more tourism in Tucumcari will increase water consumption in the summer time but not enough to be concerned.

He said Tucumcari averages 1.5 million gallons per day in water use with it going over 2 million gallons per day in the summer.

“I’ve been here almost 36 years, and we’ve never experienced that (emergency levels),” said Sandoval.

If a water emergency were to arise, “the first thing we try to do is make contact with the people; people who are high consumers, we might go talk to face-to-face,” DeSha said of Portales measures. “If it continues on, then we take it to the (city) council and start putting in measures from our drought contingency plan.”


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