Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

This is how the engineers at Las Cruces Utilities rate water systems

You may have seen a Las Cruces Utilities well house in your neighborhood and assumed that the water from your faucet came from there. However, to make sure there is enough water pressure to bring the water to your faucet, your water will likely come from a well in a different pressure zone and may use artificial pressure or gravity to bring water to you. It’s a more complicated system than residents might think, and LCU engineers use data analysis to make sure the water system has enough pressure and flow not just for your faucet but also for the needs of the fire service in the event of an emergency .

LCU Senior Engineer Rocío Nasir, LCU Assistant Engineer Fernando Ortiz and LCU Engineer Cesar Madrid are part of the team that sifts through water data. They use historical water data and perform hydrant flow tests in the field to simulate high flow conditions and determine that the water pressure and flow generating capabilities of the water distribution system are properly calibrated.

“For example, when the city of Las Cruces bought the Jornada Water System, we didn’t have a lot of water modeling data,” said Nasir. “We started with hydrant flow tests to see how much water was leaking and what the pressure was. We compare it to the models based on the pressure zones in our system. Recently we noticed that one line was disconnected from another and our data was becoming distorted. The pressure in the field was different than in our system. “

When performing hydrant flow tests for model calibration, LCU engineers check water availability when planning fire fighting activities and water availability when designing and expanding the entire water system. They also consider how the system can be improved and take into account any upcoming refurbishments or improvements that may be needed.

The LCU engineers use a program called InfoWater to enter, store and analyze the data. From pressure zones to wells, tanks and booster stations (which “boost” the water from one zone to another) to the pressure relief valves on pipes, engineers keep the data updated to ensure the city’s safety ratings.

“We get together and go through the program as it builds information and make sure that the data we have in the hydraulic water model exactly matches what we have in the field,” said Madrid. “Sometimes we find that valves are accidentally closed during the season for a project or some kind of repair.”

Hydraulic water modeling is also critical to working with developers to ensure that when a new development is presented, the LCU system is ready to provide the required water supply.

“We are taking the time to make sure the analysis of the proposed development is going through and we want to see how this will affect the water system and what additional staff may be required to maintain it,” said Nasir. “This is important to ensure customers’ water needs and safety in the event of an emergency.”

The LCU Customer Central can be reached Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 575-541-2111. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities In an emergency, call Dispatch at 575-526-0500.

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