The city of Portales is chasing water buying agricultural wells to supply the 3 million gallon a day need of the town. “Chasing water” means finding enough underground water to maintain the current population and businesses as they operate today. Public Works Director says by buying up land and wells and pushing agriculture away they have actually raised the water table on the land they purchased for water access.
The water eastern New Mexico currently relies heavily on is the Ogallala aquifer, an underground supply of water that eastern New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas sit on top of that drops around two to six feet per year, and only regains a few inches annually. There is a 10 year temporary plan for water coming from a paleo channel near the airbase that will feed Clovis and Portales that will cost 100 million and there is a 20 year plan that will bring water from the Ute reservoir that will cost a billion USD. There’s not real clarity on these plans or if they will happen in time to save these towns.
Most of the water, she said, is being used for agricultural purposes. Only 5 percent of water is being drawn from the aquifer by municipalities and non-ag industries.