PVACD discusses drought

July 16, 2013 • Local News

Roswell-area water levels have reached an “all-time low.”

Three years of severe drought and a state-ordered water seizure on the Pecos River has reduced flows to levels not seen since 1970—the worst year on record, said Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District Board member Dick Smith.

Water district officials asked county and city officials to consider restricting domestic water wells as a solution to the problem Tuesday.

“Man, we’re having some hard times lately,” Smith said.

PVACD officials delivered the unsettling news to a group of residents and county, city and agriculture officials.

Since the Carlsbad Irrigation [auth] District’s demand to the state engineer for a priority call on the Pecos River, the PVACD has spent $92,000 a month to pump water downriver.

The drain on area wells and the aquifer, when coupled with the marathon drought, has damaged water supplies, Smith said.

“The water table is falling and it is not coming back,” Smith said. “We badly need rain. The bottom line is, I don’t know where the priority call is going to go.”

If all pumping stopped today and it began raining, though, it might take six years before any measurable positive impact to the river was realized, said PVACD Director Aron Balok.

“We’re in absolutely unchartered territory here,” Balok said.

The PVACD is working with the Carlsbad district to find a solution to pumping water downstream, Smith said. One solution would be to put a stop to drilling of water wells until the priority call is sorted out.

“We think that’s a viable option on new subdivisions,” Smith said. “We’ve got to start somewhere folks. We’ve got too many straws in the glass. We’ve got to protect our water resources.”

Mayor Del Jurney told Smith the city was prepared to move forward to support that type of direction. The city would stand with the county if “they go that route as well,” Jurney said.

“We will work together to make those small steps,” he said.

Mike White, president of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, said he was glad to see the water district hold the meeting.

“This is a major issue, not just for agriculture, but for everybody,” White said. “There’s no simple answer. Getting control of domestic wells is a major issue.”

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