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Major Water Conservation Project at UNM North Golf Course Complete

05/19/2017

A major water conservation project is complete at the University of New Mexico North Golf Course Urban Open Space, and is expected to save as much as 14 million gallons of water a year.

Community leaders celebrated the project completion this afternoon as recycled water from the campus chiller plant traveled over a half mile underground to a reservoir on the north end of the golf course.

The project went online April 17 and has already saved more than 1.5 million gallons of water, dramatically reducing the amount of water pumped from Albuquerque’s aquifer to irrigate the popular golf course and open space.

The UNM Lomas Chiller Plant – a major campus utilities plant – is now connected by pipeline to the North Golf Course Urban Open Space, where water from the main campus utilities system is reused to irrigate the Open Space’s grassy fairways, trees and native plants.

The Lomas Chiller Plant sends chilled water and steam through pipes to heat and cool dozens of campus buildings. The water must be flushed from the system periodically, and this project recycles the water to irrigate the Open Space rather than putting it into the sewer system.

This project is funded by $500,000 in state capital outlay funds from the New Mexico Legislature. State Rep. Gail Chasey and State Sen. Cisco McSorley were the chief sponsors. Other sponsors include Senators Mimi Stewart, Daniel Ivey-Soto, Bill O’Neill, Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Lisa Torraco and Sue Wilson Beffort; and Representatives Deborah Armstrong, Nate Gentry, Sheryl Williams Stapleton and Christine Trujillo.

Bernalillo County, the neighborhood association and the university worked closely to make the project a reality.

“Over the past 30 days this innovative project has already saved more than 1.5 million gallons of water, which helps preserve this crucial resource for future generations,” Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins says. “This success is only possible thanks to a model partnership between the county, the university, the New Mexico Legislature and the North Campus Neighborhood Association. Great things can happen when local governments listen to the community and work together toward a common goal.”

“UNM is pleased to continue our collaboration with Bernalillo County, the state legislature and the neighborhood associations in maintaining this valuable green space enjoyed by our community,” said Acting UNM President Chaouki Abdallah. “This project demonstrates the university’s continued commitment to conserve resources and promote sustainability on and off campus.

“This project – and partnership -- is a fantastic accomplishment that other communities and local governments should emulate,” says Tim Davis, UNM liaison for the North Campus Neighborhood Association. “Our community is incredibly grateful and proud of the progress we’ve made working with the university, the county and our state lawmakers.”

The UNM North Golf Course was protected as an Urban Open Space through a special 2012 agreement between Bernalillo County and the University of New Mexico.

The county has invested $1.5 million to upgrade the Open Space, including a new irrigation system expected to save millions of gallons of water per year; major upgrades to the trail around the course; new trees and landscaping; signage and benches. The Legislature has provided capital outlay grants totaling $950,000 to the project which have been used to pay for the water conservation project and other upcoming improvements to the trail and urban forest canopy at the Open Space.

For more information about Bernalillo County Open Space visit www.bernco.gov/openspace.

UNM Golf Course Water Project

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