CLOVIS, N.M.–()–Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV) and the City of Clovis, New Mexico, are developing a conservation model to support municipal water while providing habitat for migratory birds—a model that could help other towns dependent on the Ogallala Aquifer. A diverse group of organizations and individuals in Curry County are proactively addressing a declining municipal water supply by restoring their part of the aquifer through playa restoration and protection, reduced use of irrigation-based agriculture, and better surface water management.

“Playas play an important role in aquifer recharge, and the City’s partnership with PLJV will greatly assist with our water conservation efforts as we implement the City’s water assurance plan,” stated Clovis Mayor David Lansford. “I am excited the City is partnering with PLJV to encourage playa restoration and education regarding the importance of playas in our area.”

Playas are shallow depressions with clay basins that collect and hold water from rainfall and runoff, creating temporary lakes. They 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.

“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 PLJV Board Chairman Dan Snodgrass. “PLJV is proud to collaborate with Clovis and looks forward to a long, successful partnership.”

The partnership launched in April 2017 with discussions on how to prioritize restoration activities to meet the partners’ goals of managing playas for recharge, wildlife habitat, and stormwater management. In December 2017, Clovis adopted a water assurance plan that includes recapturing surface water for aquifer recharge and increasing the recharge potential of its owned playas near current or future water supplies by removing the accumulated sediment.

PLJV is interested in talking with other communities about how this model can help them provide a sustainable water future by restoring playas. Within the Joint Venture’s six-state region (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas), there are nearly 150 towns, similar to Clovis, that are experiencing declining availability of groundwater and have playas surrounding the community.

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