With all the rain we’ve received over the last two months, it would be natural for the city to shelve its emergency water projects. But that would be the wrong move, given the limited storage we have and our city’s vulnerability to drought.
Just look at the town of Magdalena where thousands of gallons of water had to be trucked in last month because its only operating well failed.
Thankfully, the city of Las Vegas and its water officials are moving forward with the emergency water projects, which include investing in the infrastructure that will give it the ability to draw more water from its Taylor Wells Field and reaching an agreement with New Mexico Highlands University for the use of its golf course well.
There’s no question that these projects will be a significant investment for the city. But given the alternative and the city’s precarious water situation it will be money well spent.
Consider that Las Vegas typically gets 90 percent of its water from the Gallinas River with the remaining 10 percent coming from its Taylor Wells Field. And let’s not forget that we currently only have the capacity to store about a three- or four-month supply of water.
The city’s emergency projects involve laying the groundwork so that in an emergency situation, the city will be able to supply 60 percent of water demand through groundwater.
We applaud the city and Highlands for coming to the table and working on a deal that would allow the city to use Highlands’ golf course well in an emergency.
The university owns about 45 acre feet of water rights on the well, which is roughly enough to cover the city’s water demand for 9.3 days. In exchange for allowing the city the use of the well, Highlands would receive effluent, or treated waste water, to irrigate its golf course and other properties.
Although the deal has yet to be finalized, we’re confident that they’ll get it done. After all, Highlands President Jim Fries is absolutely right when he says that the university is a part of the Las Vegas community and is as dependent on the city water supply as anyone else in town.
This year’s monsoons have improved our water situation tremendously. But even with the heavy rains, our water storage was only 57.8 percent full as of last week. And let’s not forget that just three months ago, city officials were worried that if the monsoons didn’t come this year, the city’s water storage could have been down to 35 percent by September.
Chances are that we’ll be facing that reality in the years to come. And if it happens, we’ll be glad that the infrastructure for these emergency water sources is already in place.