2017-09-06, Erek Fuchs, Elephant Butte Irrigation District

Our meeting began with Jim Parks’ invocation highlighting those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  After President Lya led the Pledge of Allegiance, Charlotte Brockway and Fran Boldt led us in singing “When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles with You).”  President Lya introduced guests, including our first high school students of the new academic year.  We met and greeted before Lya announced this month’s birthdays, wedding anniversaries and club anniversaries. 

There were plenty of happy dollars.  Bill Harty was happy his nephew was heading home from deployment in Syria.  Fran reminded us of the Symphony’s pops concert including the NMSU Masterworks Chorus, to which she belongs.  John Hernández was “mighty glad to be here.”  Kristi Granados was proud of her nephew in the Texas National Guard, and niece bringing relief support items from Austin.  Mary Ellen McKay’s Houston relatives had water in the yard, but not in the house.  Charlotte and Gary Brockway have been loading a semi-trailer with food for people, for horses, and for dogs that is headed to Houston.  Patty Groth reminded us of the opportunity to give through our club foundation to support hurricane relief through Rotary-sponsored funds. 

President Lya reminded everyone of the Every Rotarian Every Year program to support the annual fund of the Rotary Foundation.  She also announced the presentation, on Thursday at 9, of 16 bulletproof clipboards to the Las Cruces Police Department; the Doña Ana Sheriff’s Office has already received 16. Richelle Ponder noted that Mesilla Valley Search and Rescue had boat damage from their week of rescue work in Houston; contributions can be made through their Facebook page.  Elaine Szalay’s daughter Laura is in Coral Gables, Florida, in the path of Hurricane Irma. 

The Program

Gary Esslinger introduced our speaker, Erek Fuchs, groundwater resource manager for the Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID), to begin our series of programs on water in the Mesilla Valley.  Erek is closing in on his PhD, expected this fall, and has been with EBID 12 years.  Erek noted that he was honored to be speaking in front of Dr. John Hernández, who he recognized as a pioneer in New Mexico water rights and engineering. 

The program focused on the increasing demand on groundwater resources in our area.  EBID has no jurisdiction over groundwater, but is very interested in the use of ground water for agriculture when surface water is scarce, and because the handling of surface water is a large factor in recharging the ground water aquifer.  Their studies focus on the level of the water table, measured annually on December 31 at 45 testing wells throughout the valley, one in each of a series of 22,000 to 23,000 acre polygons from Fort Selden to El Paso.  Erek noted that there were about 51,000 acres in cultivation in 2016, of a total of 63,000 acres eligible for irrigation. 

Erek showed some graphs of the various annual uses of ground water and relationships among those.  Use of water for domestic, commercial, and governmental uses other than irrigation is fairly constant from year to year.  The use of ground water for irrigation has an inverse relationship to the availability of surface water for irrigation.  That is, the agriculture community only pumps ground water to meet the needs of farming not covered by surface water irrigation allotments. 

Over the past 7 years of continuing drought, the aquifer has declined an average of 5.9 feet per year.  This drops significantly during the summer during irrigation, and recharges from recapture of irrigation water and from late summer and fall rains.  In 2016, there was a significant gain, assisted by the capture and use of storm water for recharge, and from concentrating surface water in pecan growing areas.  There were a few questions about how irrigation levels are monitored.  In 2017, because of more normal precipitation levels and of increased use of water conservation techniques in agriculture, another increase in ground water levels is expected. 

After the Program

We raised $93 for our club project.  Patty explained that the holder of the ticket chosen in the drawing selects one of a deck that began with 54 cards, including two jokers.  If a joker is drawn, the person gets the jackpot, now at the upper limit of $500.  Other prizes go to those drawing aces ($20), or face cards (one of the prize envelopes).  Mark Santiago’s ticket was drawn and Fran Boldt drew for him, as he had to return to the museum before the drawing.  She chose the ten of spades, so the odds continue to increase for next week. 

President Lya led the recitation of the Four-Way Test to conclude the meeting.  

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians



Patrick Lopez


Visiting Rotarians


Home Club



Student Guests



Jared Brown


Garrison Bush




Date Club




Submitted by Bill HartyBill Harty