U.S. Water News Online
SANTA FE -- A family-owned company will demonstrate the
merits of its ditch liners. A nonprofit organization will make
water-saving devices affordable for hundreds of homeowners, and
Cloudcroft will finish a special treatment system for reclaiming
They are among 25 recipients of $10 million from a state fund that
encourages fresh approaches to fighting the drought.
It's estimated that the projects -- designed to produce, recycle
or conserve water, and to help communities facing water crises --
will save 32 billion gallons a year, Gov. Bill Richardson said.
"This is new, innovative thinking from New Mexico citizens -- not
bureaucrats," Richardson said as he announced the recipients.
Finance and Administration Secretary James Jimenez said the
projects were selected from about 225 proposals.
The Water Innovation Fund was created after lawmakers set aside
$10 million of capital improvement money for it at Richardson's
request in the 2004 legislative session. The governor said he will
ask for more funding next year.
"We are looking for projects that can be replicated across the
state of New Mexico, not just for one-time fixes that address a
particular community's issues," Jimenez said.
New Mexico's traditional, unlined acequias can lose upward of 90
percent of their water, according to Ken Suazo, who said there are
900 such ditches.
Suazo's Vallecitos-based company, FastDitch, makes high-density,
polyethylene liners. It got $487,000 to line and monitor a 7,900-foot
ditch at Acoma to validate its claims that the percentage of water
loss can be reduced to single digits.
Homewise, a Santa Fe housing organization, will use its $300,000
to provide low-interest loans to homeowners to buy a range of
water-saving devices that include front-loading washing machines,
water-saving dishwashers, and low-flow toilets, shower heads and
Homewise executive director Michael Loftin said the program also
will offer re-circulating hot water pumps, which can save nearly
10,000 gallons a year by eliminating the need for faucets to run
until hot water reaches sinks or showers.
The fund also provided $500,000 for another Santa Fe project. The
city will retrofit 10 deep water wells with systems that allow the
recapture and reuse of "purge" water, which is discharged to the
surface each time well pumps are started.
The fund gave $636,000 to Cloudcroft for its toilet-to-tap
project, which is projected to reclaim about 100,000 gallons a day of
wastewater by treating it to drinking water quality.
"As you know, we've had to haul water this year because our wells
have not been producing as they have in the past," said village
administrator and Otero County Commissioner Michael Nivison.
Another project, proposed by a Florida firm that has developed
similar systems for ships, will receive $545,000 to demonstrate the
effectiveness of treating wastewater from a dairy farm in southern
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