Playas Can Help Provide Sustainable Future for Towns

Over the past year, PLJV has had the opportunity to work with city leaders and prominent landowners in Clovis, New Mexico, on a visionary plan that features playa conservation as an important aspect of ensuring ongoing groundwater recharge and a sustainable future for their community. With more than 300 playas surrounding their town, the community is working to restore playas with pits or accumulated sediment that reduce their ability to function, enhance the amount of recharge by diverting stormwater into some of those playas, and retire irrigation wells that are competing for aquifer water. They have discussed establishing enhanced management zones (areas over the aquifer managed for recharge and agricultural production) and are advocating for a land trust to offer associated easements to hold and manage conserved playas.

As a conservation organization, PLJV is excited and inspired to see this community working to secure its water future, thinking about the long-range benefits playas provide, and developing innovative solutions that continue to provide clean water for generations to come. We not only support Clovis in their efforts but also believe this municipal playa conservation model can benefit many other towns across the Great Plains. In fact, we’ve started exploring how to duplicate this model to help other communities.

Throughout the region, aquifer levels are decreasing. Many communities that depend on the High Plains (Ogallala) Aquifer are experiencing declining availability of groundwater. This decline is impacting nearly 150 towns and cities located above these areas, which means their future water supply may be limited. Many of these towns are searching for solutions to continue providing abundant and clean water for residents including drilling more and deeper wells—just to provide the same amount of water. Restoring playas, a primary source of groundwater recharge, can be an important part of a sustainable approach to securing water for these communities.

Posted: December 22, 2016