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Water and Sustainability

With less than 10 inches of rain a year falling in one monsoon season, Las Cruces struggles with either too little water or too much - especially in urban areas. With the use of the automobile come miles of paved and impervious surfaces known as hardscape. When rainfall runs off these surfaces it floods streets, increases erosion in washes and arroyos, and carries away pollutants like oil, herbicides and pet waste to waterways. The City’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program remains vigilant to these issues.

Outside the monsoon season, the hardscape retains and radiates heat, causing as urban heat island effect where developed areas become warmer than surrounding rural ones. Problems compound when little water infiltrates the soil; vegetation becomes stressed; shade decreases; cities becomes less livable.

Green infrastructure is a term for low-tech solutions to harvest, clean and allow storm water to soak back into the ground; create wildlife habitat; shade and cool streets and buildings; and even calm traffic. Green infrastructure uses natural hydrologic features such as vegetation, soil, and topography to manage rainwater where it falls. Some examples include mulch to minimize evaporation, curb cuts to redirect stormwater into vegetation, sediment traps to filter water, and depressions (swales) to harvest rainwater. These low impact development strategies cost less, improve property values, and save energy.

Green infrastructure is one of handful of important techniques for making the most of such a precious resource. This same attention inside monitoring consumption, potential leaks, and efficient technologies make desert living livable. The City’s water conservation office offers valuable support to protect water resources inside and out.

City links:

water conservation
stormwater management
pollution prevention

other links outside the City:

green infrastructure
Paso del Norte Watershed Council
Public health tracking of water
NM aquifer maps
tips to conserve water
Water Resource Research Institute
Safe Water Drinking Act

Further Reading