Clean Water

Rosanne Boyett, senior staff write at the Cibola Beacon, wrote twice about CVNM Education Fund’s recent water safety and conservation community forum in Grants.

“There is no life without water,” emphasized Steve Juanico, Pueblo of Acoma water department director.

He pointed out that there is never enough rain to recharge the aquifers and said, “Eventually we will all run out of water because we are pumping it out of the aquifer and using it up.”

Juanico explained, “Water has no boundaries. There are two kinds – groundwater and surface water. The Acoma [people] have always practiced conservation because water is a limited resource. We still carry out our traditions, which include praying for rain, even though lifestyles have changed during the last few centuries.”

Juanico has been with the Acoma Water Department since 2009. He challenged elected officials and area residents, “How can we recharge our aquifers instead of sending the water out of the region whenever it rains? We need a conservation statute to help everyone understand the importance of water resources.”

Almost 90 percent of New Mexico’s residents rely on groundwater for their drinking water, either from municipal supplies or private wells.

Juanico, Cynthia Spidle, Lava Soil & Water Conservation District, Dr. Sharon Walsh, NMSU-Grants natural sciences program manager, and Dr. Antonio Lara, NMSU-Las Cruces chemistry and biochemistry department, made presentations at the Conservation Voters of New Mexico Water Resources Community Forum that was held at NMSU-Grants on Nov. 13.

Spidle described some of the challenges that rural property owners face when providing their own water supplies, which usually are domestic wells. People rely on an adequate supply of clean water for a variety of reasons.

Toilets use the largest percentage of household water with an average of 26.7 percent; clothes washers are next with 21.7 percent; showers, 16.8, and faucets, 15.7, are the next highest uses.

A homeowner must obtain a domestic water right permit from the State Engineer, which entitles the owner to use up to three acre-feet of water per year. An acre-foot is the equivalent of 325,851 gallons.

Improper siting of private wells and septic systems in rural areas threatens groundwater quality.

Other human activities also cause contamination of underground water sources.

Read the rest of part I and part II of this story.