Is The Village of Eagle Nest Wasting Water?
By HELEN HUTCHINS,
In one of his last acts as Mayor, Richard Cordova raised Eagle Nest’s water rights fee to $20,000 for commercial properties. Before the increase, Eagle Nest already had the highest water rate in the Valley, at around $5,000. which was at least twice as high as Angel Fire or Red River. When questioned about the increase, Cordova said that water was precious in the Valley, and we didn’t have a lot, should we just give it away?
The current administration at one time said they would consider putting the water right fee back to the prior rate, but they haven’t. Now, the current administration is trying to raise the water rate on residents, again. They’ve already increased it twice in the past 2 years.
In this community, correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t a lot of full-time residents retirees? Who are on fixed incomes? And the Village is trying hard, I attended a meeting where the Council voted it down, but then I see that it was on several agendas after that, maybe it got increased already. I don’t even know if that is legal, there must be a time limit before you can put an item back on an agenda once it’s been voted down?
And now a neighbor, who lives in Eagle Nest full-time, tells me they are planning on putting an irrigation system in the park. I fell on the floor laughing when he told me, but he looked at me serious and said “no, they are planning on doing it”. Are you folks going to Council meetings, who approved this farse? Did they know what they were voting on? Let me guess, nobody knows how much water it’s going to take, or how much it’s going to cost for the water.
Then, lo and behold, the irrigation system showed up on the March Eagle Nest Council Meeting agenda. They tried to present a very transparent picture about the irrigation system under consideration and current water usage in the park.
The gentleman presenting on behalf of the irrigation design suggested that 9600 gallons of water are currently being applied to the grass in the park. 9600 gallons/day? Every day? Every other day? For how many months? The taxpayers who attended the meeting don’t know because the presentation by the irrigation expert didn’t give that information. The presentation provided a lot of information, like how tall the sprinklers are, and other gobbledy gook. But no one, not the irrigation expert, or the Village, provided any real data, such as meter readings, which would actually prove how much water is used to water the park presently.
It turns out that the employee who actually does the watering wasn’t at the meeting to tell how often the current irrigation is happening, so we do not know how much water is currently being used in Enchanted Eagle Park in Eagle Nest, NM.
The Village’s irrigation-system expert admitted that the current system being used by the Village of Eagle Nest is labor-intensive, involving ‘moving 4’ tall overhead sprinkler units around the park, every few hours.” This process is implemented “when there is time.”
Neighbors who, literally, live next to the park report never seeing the grass in the park being irrigated in this manner. Remember, the employee who would be irrigating using the current system was not present at the meeting to comment. And, many of the residents of Eagle Nest are retirees, they are often home, or walking around town. They would see if the park were being watered.
Nevertheless, the water usage of the current system was suggested to amount to 9600 gallons of water per day, if irrigation happened for an 8 hour day. So, I wanted to try and guess if the new irrigation system was going to use more water or less. I did some simple math based on the meager data provided to produce a range of potential water usage, under the current system, in spite of the missing data, just to perform the exercise.
With the current, labor-intensive method, high end water use might be:
9600 gallons/day x 180 days=1.73 million gallons of water or 5.3 acre feet.
This represents daily irrigation at 9600 gallons/day for 6 months (May-October). Keep in mind that several local residents report NEVER seeing this irrigation happening. I suppose it’s possible it’s happening at night, but I think the chance of that is slim.
Not knowing how often 9600 gallons/day are put on the grass in the park, because the employee actually doing the work was not at the meeting, let’s do the math assuming this happens only 2 days/week (to give the Village the benefit of the doubt):
9600 gallons/day x 48 days (total, from May-October) at the low end of water use = 460,800 gallons.
However, we suspect that water use, to irrigate the park, right now is virtually ZERO, or at the very least, close to the low-end water use estimate calculated above. No one who lives in the vicinity of the park has witnessed these tripod-type, 4’ tall overhead sprinklers working in the park, certainly not on a daily basis.
Contrast that with the new irrigation system, which is “very-efficient, can be turned on with the flip of a switch, can run at night” (meaning it will probably be used as often possible) has a maximum output of 37, 800 gallons of water per week or per day. This is important because the watering schedule said that was the rate/week and also the rate/day. How is that possible? This was not explained during the presentation.
Anyway, to compare the proposed new irrigation system with the old one, let’s assume the rate is 37,800 gallons/week. If it is used every day, for the 180 day season, that calculates to 907, 200 gallons or 2.7 acre feet.
Current system range of water use: 460,800 low end/ 1.7 million gallons high end.
Proposed system range of water use: I can’t really calculate a low end of the range because there was no discussion of how often the proposed irrigation system would be used. At the high end, it could be 907, 200 gallons. That amount is twice the estimated low end water used in the current, labor-intensive system which no one has seen being used.
It is very confusing, and difficult to figure when the proper data isn’t presented, but there is something simple about the whole situation. Eagle Nest is a high-altitude desert, with very limited water resources according to the previous mayor who jacked up the water rights fee for new business owners? Why does the grass need to be watered? This is a pattern in Eagle Nest. At past Council meetings, folks have asked about the Splash Pad. Does anyone know how much water it uses or where the water goes? One of my neighbors told me last summer that a deer walked through the splash pad and it set it off! Are you happy to be paying for water for the deer to play, in a high desert? I look at that thing and I think that is an extravagance that is not only expensive and unsustainable, but it is a downright waste. If your kids want to play in the water, take them down the canyon, teach them how to flyfish and put them in the river for a while.
Here's what I know about Eagle Nest Park, it’s full of dog crap, and they don’t cut the grass when it needs it, unless a fed-up citizen does it. Now they want to water the grass…and then they are going to want to put chemicals on it to kill the weeds.
I bought a place here because it’s beautiful and natural, and because I don’t have to water my grass because the neighbors don’t care, because nobody waters their grass (except, apparently the Mayor admitted that he did). Because it’s a DESERT for God’s sake. I don’t pay taxes in Eagle Nest, so I don’t have any skin in the game per se, but I’m a fisherman and a hunter and I care about the environment, and the abuse of it. Water is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted.
My neighbor didn’t say anything about the irrigation system during the meeting, but he said one man did speak up and suggest that it wasn’t necessary. You folks need to take back control of your lives. Go to your Council meetings and demand to be given answers.
If you don’t run your lives, the government will run them for you.
— The Real Village Voice