DRIPPING SPRINGS WATER PROJECT CONTINUES, MORE RAINS FORECAST

DRIPPING SPRINGS WATER PROJECT CONTINUES, MORE RAINS FORECAST

Crews from Doña Ana County and Elephant Butte Irrigation District remain on scene at a large ponding area east of the Bruce King Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum this morning, where standing water in a sand quarry is being diverted to a retention dam east of the NMSU Golf Course.

The water level has been dropped by about three feet since noon yesterday, when pumping and diversion operations began. Engineers on the site estimate that 5 to 7 million gallons of water have been diverted thus far. The Doña Ana County Office of Emergency Management has rented four six-inch pump lines, and EBID is operating an 18-inch pump as part of the diversion process. Water will continue to be pumped until further notice. The water is being diverted southwest to EBID’s Tortugas 1 Dam, just east of the NMSU Golf Course.

Dripping Springs Road re-opened about 8 p.m. Monday, and an evacuation advisory was lifted simultaneously for Golf Country Estates and the Bruce King Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, both of which are located just west of the quarry pond. County and EBID crews are monitoring the water diversion project on an ongoing basis. Dripping Springs Road remains dry and passable at this time, but if water begins to run rapidly across it again, traffic may be again diverted to Geothermal Drive. More rain has been forecast for this afternoon, clearing by Thursday.

“We’ve made significant progress on this project,” said OEM spokesman Jess Williams. “We have a forecast for more rains this afternoon, and we’re watching the situation carefully until that potential threat passes. If the rains come to specific areas on the west face of the Organ Mountains, we could still have a hazardous situation on our hands. We’ll work with law enforcement and our engineering crews to continually assess the situation and to determine whether the museum or nearby residents are in any danger. At this time, they are not.”

County and EBID officials are working closely with other local and state agencies, including NMSU and the New Mexico State Police, to maintain the correct level of vigilance in the area. The state’s Office of Emergency Management is aware of the ongoing activities, and all crews are keeping careful logs of man-hours, equipment costs and other potentially recoverable costs related to the water-diversion project.

Meanwhile, Doña Ana County road crews have been deployed to a number of other areas around the county where roads have been adversely impacted by flash flooding. Crews remain at work and on call to address road issues as necessary. Both Doña Ana County and the City of Las Cruces are stockpiling sandbags for distribution as the rainy season continues.

Within the City of Las Cruces, sandbags are available at the City Streets Office off East Hadley Ave., or at Las Cruces Fire Department stations. County residents can procure sandbags by going to the nearest Volunteer Fire Department station house. Juvenile inmates at the Doña Ana County Detention Center are filling sandbags for both city and county use.

For more information, call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7229.