Carlsbad officials preparing for longer drought conditions - Albuquerque Journal

Carlsbad officials preparing for longer drought conditions

CARLSBAD, N.M. — Nearly every square mile of New Mexico has been mired in drought over the last several months. But Carlsbad officials said the city – fed by numerous underground aquifers and the Pecos River – was largely protected.

That could change in 2019 after months of scarce rainfall this year, the Carlsbad Current Argus reported .

Low rainfall also spells trouble for the Carlsbad Irrigation District’s reservoirs and the farmers and ranchers who depend on them.

Last year, hundreds of farmers and ranchers got a full allotment from the district this year after a healthy 2017 rainfalls and adequate snow packs that fed reservoirs.

The district expects next year’s allotment may be dramatically lower because there was less than an inch of rain between October 2017 and summer 2018.

District Manager Dale Ballard estimates it could be less than an acre foot.

Full reservoirs are depleted in part by evaporation. To save water, the district is keeping most of its water in northern areas where the air is cooler and there is less evaporation.

While the district has been able to issue a full or close-to-full allotment for the past five years, Ballard said he’s nervous that those days could be drying up.

“It just doesn’t look good right now,” he said. “It’s hard to say. We’ve been lucky. We can just pray for rain.”

The city of Carlsbad has taken a more proactive approach to the issue and has a plan to reduce the wasting of water and increase availability to thousands of residential water users.

The plan is not only meant to mitigate recent drought problems, but also secure water for the future, City Administrator Mike Hernandez said.

To ensure that levels in the Capitan Reef Aquifer, which provides most of the city’s freshwater, stay adequate, the city has imposed water restrictions during warmer months.

If the levels drop too low, the city would go into rationing mode, where stricter restrictions would be enforced, said Ron Myers, director of utilities for the City of Carlsbad.

The city is also considering using effluent water, or waste water, throughout city parks, Hernandez said.

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Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus, http://www.currentargus.com/

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