On Tuesday, June 19, the City of Clovis and Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV) formalized their partnership with a joint resolution to provide public education about the significance of playas to groundwater recharge and wildlife habitat and to restore playas in Curry County, New Mexico, so they can better provide those benefits. The resolution was signed by City Mayor David Lansford and PLJV Management Board Chairman Dan Snodgrass.
“Playas play an important role in aquifer recharge, and the City’s partnership with Playa Lakes Joint Venture will greatly assist with our water conservation efforts as we continue to implement the City’s Master Water Assurance Plan,” stated Mayor Lansford. “I am excited the City of Clovis is partnering with PLJV to encourage playa restoration and education regarding the importance of playas in our area.”
“Having grown up in the southern High Plains, about 115 miles from Clovis, I understand the importance of the Ogallala Aquifer to communities—for drinking water, for industry, and for agriculture,” said Snodgrass during his remarks. “Playa Lakes Joint Venture is very proud to partner with the City of Clovis in this effort and look forward to a long, successful partnership.”
Playas are a primary source of groundwater recharge and can be an important part of a sustainable approach to securing water for communities in the western Great Plains. For the past two years, PLJV has been working with the City of Clovis to develop a playa conservation model that helps support municipal water needs while providing needed habitat for migratory birds. That model is currently being piloted in Curry County as a diverse group of organizations and individuals have come together to proactively address a declining municipal water supply by restoring their part of the Ogallala Aquifer through playa restoration and conservation, reduced use of irrigation-based agriculture, and better surface water management.
A year ago, the partners launched the collaborative effort with a field day to tour playas in close proximity to Clovis and discuss playa restoration needs and opportunities. After the tour, the group talked about how to prioritize restoration activities to meet the various goals of the partnership, which include managing playas for recharge, wildlife habitat, and stormwater management or water retention benefits. In December 2017, Clovis adopted a Master Water Assurance Plan which includes recapturing surface water for Ogallala Aquifer recharge. The city is seeking to increase the recharge potential of its owned playas located closest to current or future water supplies by removing the sediment of those playas.
To help fund outreach and restoration efforts, PLJV received a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Resilient Communities grant for $250,000. Local outreach and education began in May 2018 with the first playa restoration workshop, attended by 10 landowners and 13 representatives from various city and agency partners.
PLJV has also begun reaching out to other communities to discuss how this model can help them prepare for a sustainable water future by cooperatively working to restore playas. Within the Joint Venture’s six-state region, there are nearly 150 towns and cities, similar to Clovis, that are experiencing declining availability of groundwater and have a number of playas surrounding the community.
“Our partnership with Clovis is one of the most gratifying conservation partnerships I’ve been involved in during my time with the Joint Venture,” said PLJV Coordinator Mike Carter. “The Joint Venture partners look forward to exporting this model and working with other communities in the western Great Plains that can benefit from including playa restoration in their plan for a sustainable water future.”