UNM golf greens could get greener

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Given New Mexico’s water woes, Tim Davis was surprised to see thousands of gallons a day going down the drain.

Davis, vice president of the North Campus Neighborhood Association, said he was asking the University of New Mexico about the operations of one the campus’ main utility buildings.

“In talking to their folks they mentioned they were disposing of about 50-60,000 gallons nightly as part of their operational procedures,” Davis said. ” It has a very high mineral content to it so it can’t be used in normal application, so their current plan is to flush it down the sewer system.”

But just a few blocks away there was a potential spot where that water could be used, the UNM North Golf Course.

Bernalillo County is currently conducting a $1.5 million overhaul of that course’s leaky irrigation system, among other improvements. That project’s set to save millions of gallons alone, but Davis and Bernalillo County commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins spotted a way to save more.

The idea, build a pipeline between the utility building to the golf course using existing utility tunnels. That wastewater could then, after some treatment, be used to water the 76-acre space.

Stebbins spearheaded a joint effort between the county and UNM to get the state capital outlay dollars needed to build the project. Out of the $500,000 requested, state lawmakers earmarked $320,000 for the project. Governor Martinez signed off on that spending on Tuesday.

“This project alone will save over 20 million gallons of drinkable water a year,” said Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, who backed the project this year. “It’s fairly cheap for the bang that we’re getting.”

Although the pipeline is still short the money it needs to be completed, Davis is hopeful other funding sources can be found to make up the difference.

Davis says the project could send a loud message and set an example for how the state can better recycle its limited water resources.

“We can be water wise and still have some green benefits within the city and the county,” Davis said.

The pipeline’s set to be built as Phase II of Bernalillo County’s golf course improvements, and could be built as soon as the end of the year if the stars align.

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