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The original item was published from 10/8/2021 10:51:06 AM to 10/8/2021 12:00:36 PM.

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Posted on: September 19, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Water Talk: The Water Cycle Connects Us All

LCU Water Cycle

By Interim Deputy Director Ronald N. Borunda and Cassie McClure 

Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News on 9.19.21

This is the first part of a series of articles called Water Talk, where Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) hopes to move from common knowledge to industry information about one of our most valuable resources, water.

Water is one of the most powerful elements on our planet. It can move any object, yet gentle enough to bring joy to children on a hot summer day. It produces scenic views and contributes to a muddy floor created by your beloved pet. It sustains us and is delivered by LCU in a safe, reliable way. However, how did the chemical compound of two hydrogens and one oxygen arrive at our tap? It’s called the hydrologic, or water cycle.

With a cycle that is infinite in nature, it’s easy to start with the two main components – the sun and the ocean. The sun draws water vapor from the ocean in a process called evaporation. At the same time, the sun is drawing vapors from trees and other shrubberies, into the Earth’s atmosphere, with a process called transpiration.

Vapors from both evaporation and transpiration rise in the Earth’s atmosphere and begin building clouds. There, the water vapor is transforming from a gas back into a liquid as it becomes condensation. As that condensation builds in the clouds, it becomes heavy and begins to fall from those clouds as precipitation, or what we call rain.

It can also fall as snow onto mountains as snowcaps or glaciers. As seasons and weather patterns change, these snowcaps and glaciers begin to melt, and runoff flows to land below the caps or glaciers, called snowmelt, the beginning stages of freshwater.

As the water flows into rivers and pools on land, it begins to penetrate through the Earth’s surface and trickle down to various depths where it is naturally filtered, called percolation.

LCU drills wells deep into the Earth, in and around our city, to bring high-quality drinking water to homes and businesses. Our water wells pull up water from aquifers – underground “pockets” of water – where the Earth has stored water from rain and snow that percolated into the ground for many years.

Under Las Cruces there are two aquifers, the Mesilla Bolson and the Jornada Bolson. The Jornada Bolson refills very slowly from the small water running off the mountains east of Las Cruces. The Mesilla Bolson is close to the Rio Grande and is refilled from river water that sinks into the ground, which comes from snow precipitation from mountains in Colorado. The snow melts in the warm spring, flows downhill into the Rio Grande, and streams through Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.

Another part of the cycle is the used water – wastewater – which goes into the City sewer system, is cleaned up at the wastewater treatment facility and goes back into the river and, in some cases, back to the ocean for the final stage of the water cycle to restart again.

Every small molecule goes through this journey. How do we have connections through the ages to our elders, ancient civilizations who use water as a building block, and even to historical figures like William Shakespeare or Rosa Parks? Think about your next glass of water. It’s been through a cycle you are connected to, just like you are connected to those who came before you. 

LCU 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: For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500. 


PHOTO 1: LCU has resources for your classroom, like this poster, that can help you teach the water cycle for your students.

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