Water’s future flows with challenges

By David Stevens

Those who’ve grown up around here have heard the warnings all of our lives — we’re going to run out of water some day.
Some day is not that far away anymore. If we don’t do something quick — drastically reduce our water consumption or figure out a way to get more water in here — today’s elementary school children may well raise the last generation of families in eastern New Mexico.
State and local officials agree our water supply will run out in less than 40 years at our current rate of use. Clovis Mayor David Lansford predicts we’ll be facing shortages before 2020.
Options range from building a $212 million pipeline to dramatic changes in agribusiness practices.
Both options could prove painful.
The pipeline, which would carry water from Ute Reservoir in Quay County, could solve our water worries for a century or more. But the costs — an average of $3,000 for every man woman and child in the region, just to build it — may prove too high.
Area farmers and ranchers use about 95 percent of the region’s water, so the problem is solved if they can figure out a way to reduce consumption. But how many crops and cows can they produce with limited amounts of water?
Agriculture is the foundation of our economy. If it goes belly up, we’re all in trouble.
So those are the fundamental issues.
On Tuesday, the Clovis News Journal begins a four-part series on The Liquid of Life.
A dozen reporters, editors and photographers have been involved in the project, which includes staff from the Portales News-Tribune and Quay County Sun. We’ve conducted more than 100 interviews and cited 29 sources in 18 stories.
It took us eight months to put this package together.
This newspaper has not spent so much time on any single project in memory.
We think water is that important.
Our mission is to alert area residents that we have a serious problem. If we don’t fix it soon, our communities will die.
In addition to the paper, the series will be published on our Internet Web site at www.cnjonline.com
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The Clovis News Journal picked up 19 awards on Saturday at the New Mexico Associated Press Managing Editors’ annual banquet. For the second year in a row, CNJ staffers won the best-of-show award, which is like winning a state team championship in track.
We are not a great newspaper — I’ve written about that before — but some days, I think we do a decent job at providing information. These awards, coupled with top honors (for the second year in a row) from Panhandle Press Association last month, offer some evidence to support my theory.
The ultimate judge of our performance, however, is the reader.
You tell us if you like what we’re doing when you buy the paper — and when you don’t buy the paper.
That seems fair.
From the Editor’s Desk is a weekly memo to CNJ readers. David Stevens can be reached at 763-6991, extension 310, or by e-mail: