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Irrigation season in the Mesilla and south valley is imminent, and the Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID) is pushing hard to finish canal cleaning, removing trash and debris to allow water to be safely delivered to farm fields and orchards without hazard to the public.
Canals are often used as a dumping ground and it is an ongoing task to keep them free of obstructing trash, according to EBID Manager Gary Esslinger, who employees are running backhoes to haul large trash out of the delivery system, others are mowing and burning weeds, brush and other plant debris that accumulates.
EBID coordinates with the public works staff of the City of Las Cruces and codes enforcement along with the Las Cruces Police Department as they work to maintain these ditches and canals, especially around culverts that cross city streets, for which the city retains responsibility.
Keeping the ditches clean is magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic.
EBID Systems Director James Narvaez said people are a factor, as well. “In the midst of this whole COVID-19 and the tightening down of people not able to go to certain locations, people don't have a place to stay anymore. We're seeing a lot more of them living alongside the canal banks and inside the culverts under the city streets. There has definitely been a big uptick in that this year, but we're trying to stay on top of it. We do our best because they are part of the community too and we try to give them a heads-up.”
Water deliveries will begin around May 18. Farmers can call the Water Records Department Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 575-524-8003 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The district is well-stocked with inventory of hand sanitizer, masks and everything necessary to provide a safe environment.
Karen Ray is the media consultant for Elephant Butte Irrigation District.