Update on Las Campanas Water

Water:  Last year Las Campanas announced Las Campanas had a permanent solution for golf course water, but given what has happened this summer a fair question would be “is that really so?” From a contractual standpoint, it is definitely so. We have a contract with the County to supply raw water from the Rio Grande River through Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) and our own pipeline from the BDD to the courses, and that contract has a provision covering a backup supply to be provided by the County when the BDD doesn’t operate. We supplement that contract by using certain rights of our own to take some water from the river and deliver it through the same facilities, along with effluent from the Las Campanas water treatment plant. We have substantial capacity (about 15% of annual needs) in our lakes for back up supply. This is all fine so long as the BDD operates in a manner as planned and takes water in from the river on a reasonably consistent basis. Unfortunately that has not occurred this summer due to a “perfect storm” of various factors.

The BDD shut down and quit taking water from the river on July 5. As our lakes were drawn down (consistent with their role as back up) we called upon the County to provide the contracted-for back up supply, and the County moved to do just that. The County has a contract (preexists ours with them) with the City for water which it uses for back up supplies, not just for us but for their other customers too (their other customers include the Las Campanas Water Coop), and this summer they have done that. However, when the County requested (which they can do) a new delivery point under this contract to deliver water to us for our golf courses (County was at that time already receiving water under the contract for other customers), the City Council balked, making a political decision on the matter. The City Council did agree that the County could receive water for delivery to us on a temporary basis, helping with the immediate problem, but not dealing with the longer term.

So where are we? First, all of this is a new system, this is the first year our golf course water supply has worked this way, and it is the first full year of operation of the BDD, so in a way we are all (the operators of the BDD and the County and City too) feeling our way to see how to make this all work best as a practical matter—and we are doing it in a period of very dry and hot weather that makes the operational issues harder.

We believe there is an engineering solution (we are examining several possibilities) in how the BDD might be operated going forward that would reduce (eliminate to the maximum extent possible) periods when the BDD does not deliver water to us, certainly avoiding an event like this summer’s several week straight shut down (which even the original chairman of the board that oversees BDD said was never intended to occur). We will likely increase our pond storage; one simple and inexpensive item would involve the already scheduled work on the holes 18 lake. Although we’d prefer another course, we will pursue our legal rights as appropriate.

We have a contract with the County, and the County has one with the City, and the contracts should be honored, period. We will continue to work on the situation and are confident that long term we will make this water delivery method work as was intended. I am very proud of the hard work and enormous personal commitment of members of our board, Mark Silbert and Charlie Nylander, and our former President Phil George, to resolve this very important issue for all of us. Charlie wrote an Op Ed piece on this subject which it is anticipated will appear in Sunday’s New Mexican—the piece, as Charlie wrote it (it may be edited when published), will be posted on the website, and it provides even more detail if you are interested