By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 3/28/21
A blustery and chilly day made for dramatic skies around the Organ Mountains, especially with the view from Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) East Mesa Water Reclamation Facility. There were more people, and more panels being pulled up to look at different filters, than usual due to the tour of the facility by City of Las Cruces (City) Assistant City Manager Ikani Taumoepeau and Capital Improvements Advisory Committee (CIAC) member Steve Newby.
For those involved with the City, learning about LCU can be daunting. The department is a massive enterprise supplying safe natural gas, providing clean water, treating wastewater, and removing solid waste. Tours are regularly given for new commissioners to the LCU Board and City Councilors, new City Managers.
In his role as Assistant City Manager, Taumoepeau will see requests to help grow LCU, and so will Newby. As a member of the citizen’s group CIAC, Newby advises and assists the City with their capital improvement plans, for which impact fees may be assessed. The group monitors and evaluates the implementation of projects that affect residents throughout the city.
With Taumoepeau having started as Assistant City Manager in January 2021 and Newby joining the CIAC in 2018, it gave them both a chance to see how LCU works, and how LCU uses clean energy in its processes.
“We want to have more people see up close what our infrastructure looks like.” Delilah Walsh, LCU director, said. “When they go in person, it allows our associates to talk about daily demands to those who may make long-term decisions. Those on the ground can better inform them of daily routines, and demonstrate the pride they have in their work.”
"With two-thirds of the East Mesa Water Reclamation Facility already being supported by solar energy, LCU is one step closer to helping the City head into a sustainable future," Taumoepeau said.
East Mesa Water Reclamation Facility, off East Lohman Avenue, is attached to a 300-kilowatt photovoltaic system next door, an initiative started in 2017. It was designed to clean 1 million gallons of wastewater every day. It cleans 700,000 gallons daily, producing high-quality treated wastewater used to irrigate green space at several large public locations on the east side of town.
“We aim to grow the use of clean energy at our facilities, such as a new photovoltaic system at the West Mesa Wastewater Treatment Facility that supports the Las Cruces Innovation & Industrial Park,” said Walsh.
LCU Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: CIAC member Steve Newby see the filters at the East Mesa Water Reclamation Facility during a tour of LCU facilities.