Published in Las Cruces Bulletin 12.23.22
By Cassie McClure
The sun had set, but the water was still flowing. The Water Conservation Program (WCP) at Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) has been conducting observations to find irrigation system malfunctions and water loss throughout the city, even at night.
LCU Customer Service Representative William Wilkinson patrols the streets of Las Cruces late at night, early in the morning, and all times in between to find and prevent water being wasted.
On one recent evening, water flowing on a side street spurred a quick walk up along a commercial complex. When the flow he saw ended as the hill inclined, he walked into the parking lot to examine a leaking irrigation valve at the beginning of the irrigation system.
“Many times, we’re looking for water flowing off or ponding on residential or commercial properties that the occupants are not aware of, and it’s found by seeing water and investigating or through outreach by the community who see the water on the street and report it to us,” said Wilkinson.
The WCP, of which Wilkinson is a part, administers the Water Conservation Ordinance. The ordinance mandates days for watering for residential and commercial properties served by LCU. Outdoor watering is allowed at odd-numbered addresses only on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Even addresses are allowed only on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. There is no watering on Mondays. Water ponding or leaving the property is prohibited.
Administrative fees can be assessed for watering violations.
“For us, it’s about education, especially when irrigation systems break due to things outside a person’s control,” said LCU WCP Coordinator Rhonda Diaz. “Right now, with temperatures dropping, we’re going to be seeing leaks just from pipes bursting overnight.”
Please report any water waste you might see. The team receives reports of water waste on the WCP hotline at 575-528-4444, by calling Customer Central at 575-541-2111, or emailing ConserveWater@lascruces.gov. Be prepared to provide the date and approximate time, street address or intersections, and what you observed.
Wilkinson explained that the team will follow up on every tip, but it often takes several days to contact the party responsible for the watering violation. It may take several more days for them to make the necessary changes. If you see the same violation after two weeks, please report it again.
And for those worried about their neighbors watering in the winter? “Plants still need water in the winter, too, just less,” said Diaz. “Soak your trees and bushes about once a month.”
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU Customer Service Representative William Wilkinson finds a broken irrigation component for a commercial complex at night. LCU will be doing audits to watch for water waste, even during the winter and at night.