State, county, university and neighborhood leaders gathered at the University of New Mexico’s North Golf Course on Friday to celebrate the completion of a water conservation project that will save about 14 million gallons of water a year.
Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins praised the project and said that it came about through collaboration between the county, UNM, state lawmakers and the North Campus Neighborhood Association.
“That’s 14 million gallons that doesn’t get pumped from the aquifer to irrigate this beautiful golf course,” she said at the Friday afternoon news conference. “This is a major victory for sustainability and smart, proactive management of our critical water resources.”
The $500,000 project – paid for with state capital outlay dollars – has made it possible for UNM to reuse water being discarded from the university’s main Lomas chiller plant to irrigate the grass and other vegetation at the North Golf Course.
UNM has already saved more than 1.5 million gallons of water since the project went online on April 17.
The plant uses chilled water and steam to cool and heat dozens of UNM buildings. About 14 million gallons of water were being purged into the city’s sewer system each year prior to this project coming online.
A pipeline now carries that water more than a half mile to a reservoir on the north end of the golf course for irrigation.
Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said the project shows the rest of the state what can and should be done to make the most of the limited water that we have.
“Sustainability is an important part of what the University of New Mexico is doing and has been doing for the last few years,” said acting UNM President Chaouki Abdallah.
“This particular project demonstrates UNM’s commitment to conserve resources and to work in collaboration with our community, including Bernalillo County, the New Mexico Legislature and the neighborhood associations,” he added.
The golf course was protected as an urban open space through a 2012 agreement between UNM and the county. As part of that agreement, the county agreed to pay UNM $1.5 million to update the North Golf Course’s infrastructure, such as a new irrigation system and an improved running path. In return, UNM agreed to leave the golf course undeveloped for 15 years.
“This is a wonderful collaboration,” Hart Stebbins said. “I think this is a perfect example of your local government, local institutions actually listening to constituents, the people who live here, and getting together for partnerships to make things like this happen.”