Highlands University Students Launch Water Conservation Campaign

Rain water catchment system

Rain barrels are one of many conservation tips NMHU students are promoting for water conservation

After the fires and flooding, students at NMHU are working to educate others about how to reduce water use

September 30, 2022

In response to the dwindling clean water supply in Las Vegas, New Mexico, students at New Mexico Highlands University have created a water conservation campaign to help educate the campus and wider community about what is happening and how to best conserve water.

Following the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires and the subsequent flooding, the watershed that feeds into Las Vegas’s water supply became contaminated with ash, debris, and chemicals, leading the city to implement strict water use measures. As of September 20, the city’s Utilities Department announced that there were 43 days remaining of treatable water. The City is working diligently with state and federal agencies on both short- and long-term solutions to treat the contaminated water so it is safe for drinking.

When the City of Las Vegas, New Mexico, announced its dwindling clean water supply in August, Highlands University President Sam Minner appointed a group of students to launch a water conservation campaign across campus.

The student group’s first project was an informational brochure with water conservation tips and information about water distribution and low-flow shower heads. The brochure was distributed at the Highlands Homecoming Parade on September 17.

Student Senate President Samuel Peoble said the group’s goal is to create awareness on campus about what is happening with the city’s water supply and how students can help now and in the future.

“Students weren’t necessarily aware of what was happening, so that was one big concern that we had,” Peoble said. “We wanted to get the word out about the situation we are in as well as some of the solutions that are coming in and what we can do to help.”

Students involved in the campaign are continuing to work on education and awareness, including maintaining a live online document with water conservation ideas and links to resources and news updates. Other projects in the works include an educational campaign in local schools and collaboration with the NMHU Legislative Fellowship Program to secure capital outlay funding for items such as low-flow shower heads and efficient washing machines that can be provided to the campus community.

As of early September, water consumption across Las Vegas was reduced by 200,000 gallons per day.

“The students took on this work with passion and creativity linking the recent fires, floods, and water situation as a way to stress water conservation and its importance for our region of the country,” Dr. Roxanne Gonzales, NMHU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, said. “The group plans to continue the work to build on the wonderful foundation they have established.”