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Jal mandates water conservation

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JAL — Residents in Jal must now water their lawns under similar restrictions imposed on Hobbs citizens.

City councilors on Monday approved a new ordinance amending “Drought Response Level Criteria & Water Use Restrictions,” calling for water conservation during the warmer months of the year.

City Manager Matt White explained the provisions of the new rules.

“What it does is, from May 15 through Sept. 15, authorizes folks with even house numbers to water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you’re in an odd house number, you’ll water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday,” White said. “That leaves Sunday as a day of rest for our system.”

In Hobbs, the water conservation system during the same period of the year also alternates days to water by even or odd house numbers and even or odd calendar dates, with no watering on the 31st day of May, July or August.

The entire State of New Mexico currently suffers severe to exceptional drought conditions.

The amended and approved ordinance authorizes the city manager to determine a level of water restrictions based on drought conditions and usage. Level 1 starts at voluntary conservation while Level 6 identifies emergency water shortages.

The current rules identifying odd/even house number landscape watering restrictions are in Level 3, mandatory water use restrictions. Watering is forbidden between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and wasting water is prohibited.

In other business on Monday, the city council approved the community’s preliminary budget for the fiscal year 2022 that begins on July 1, anticipating total revenue of $7,135,750, based on an estimated gross receipts tax revenue of $495,000 per month.

Jal’s actual GRT revenue for the current fiscal year to date, July 2020 through May 2021, averages a little less than $545,500 per month.

White noted the budget generally spends the projected revenue through operational and capital expenditures, so the council approved withdrawing $1.5 million from savings to proceed with the renovation of the Burke Building to develop a new city hall.

The council also authorized city officials, through two separate resolutions, to apply for grants from the New Mexico Department of Transportation for renovation of city streets.

“One of them is for $2.3 million,” White said. “We call that our red list, projects that are shovel-ready. Then, we applied for another list, our blue list, for planning and design, about $500,000.”

White explained the NMDOT had been provided $40 million for local street improvements in this district and had asked for requests from communities. With some of Jal’s streets already prepared for reconstruction, White said he hopes to receive some of the state’s funding. The city will provide 5 percent matching funds to go with any money received from the state.

Housing, always an issue in Jal, also received a nod from the council as an 8.1-acre area owned by the city proceeds to development of 20 new homes.

“We finished the paperwork on the Four Spokes Subdivision, our new housing area,” White said. “We have all that platted and going to the county. We’ll put all those lots out for sale in another month or so.”

The Jal Municipal Schools donated the property to the city for housing purposes several years ago.

In other business, the council also approved a memorandum of understanding with the city’s chamber of commerce, assuring the chamber will perform activities for the city in exchange for occupying a building owned by the city.

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