By Cassie McClure
Published in Sun-News 11.14.21
You might have seen a Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) well house around your neighborhood and assumed that’s where the water from your tap comes from. But, to ensure that there is enough water pressure to get the water to your tap, your water is likely coming from a well in a different pressure zone and may be using artificial pressure or gravity to send water to you. It’s a more complicated system than residents may think, and LCU engineers use data analysis to ensure the water system has enough pressure and flow not just for your tap, but also enough for the needs of firefighters in an emergency.
LCU Senior Engineer Rocío Nasir, LCU Assistant Engineer Fernando Ortiz, and LCU Engineer Cesar Madrid are part of the team that wades through water data. They use historical water data and do hydrant flow tests in the field to simulate high flow conditions and determine if the water pressure and flow-producing capabilities of the water distribution system are correctly calibrated.
“For example, when the City of Las Cruces (City) bought the Jornada Water System, we didn’t have a lot of water modeling data on it,” said Nasir. “We started to do hydrant flow tests to see how much water was coming out and what the pressure was. We compare it with the models based on the pressure zones in our system. Recently we discovered that one line wasn’t connected to another, and it skewed our data. The pressure in the field was different than what was in our system.”
When hydrant flow tests are done for model calibration, LCU engineers check for water availability in planning for firefighting activities and water availability for the design and extension of the entire water system. They also check for ways to improve the system and consider any upcoming rehabilitation or improvements that might be needed.
LCU engineers use a program called InfoWater to input, store, and analyze the data. From pressure zones to wells, tanks, and booster stations (which “boosts” water from one zone to another) to the pressure release valves on pipes, the engineers keep the data updated to maintain the City’s safety ratings.
“We get together and go through the program as it builds information, making sure that data we have in the hydraulic water model is accurate to what is out in the field,” said Madrid. “Sometimes we do find that there are valves that are closed accidentally for a project or some sort of repair during the season.”
The hydraulic water modeling is also crucial in working with developers to make sure that if they present a new development that the LCU system is ready to provide the needed supply of water.
“We dedicate time to make sure to work through the analysis of proposed development and want to see how it will affect the water system and what additional staff might be needed to maintain it,” said Nasir. “This is important to ensure customers’ need for water and their safety in case of emergency water needs.”
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: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU Senior Engineer Rocío Nasir checks a hydraulic profile schematic to make sure that data matches up and that all residents, and the Las Cruces Fire Department, get the water pressure they need.