Water is a quickly disappearing resource in our Chihuahuan Desert environment. Water conservation is extremely important to NMSU. We conserve water in the following ways:

  • Low flush toilets, water faucets, and shower heads are building standards in new and remodeled buildings
  • We water plants and turf at night whenever possible; our sprinkler and drip systems are on timers to maximize water efficiency
  • The Chiller Plant and Central Utility Plant insulate the chilled water pipes

9. Rio Grande not much waterWater Master Plan

The NMSU water master plan identifies improvements required to bring our existing water system up to accepted standards and to identify additional improvements required to support the planned developments described in the NMSU Master Plan (Dec. 2006).


Storm Water Management

NMSU operates a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) that is permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency. The MS4 consists of the streets, drainage ditches, and storm drain pipes that convey stormwater runoff through the campus. The permit requires NMSU to implement a program to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff to the maximum extent practicable.

Water Consumption

NMSU has four major wells where water is pumped for on-campus use. Water goes toward domestic usage, agricultural irrigation, grounds irrigation, the golf course, and for use at the Central Utility Plant and the Satellite Utility Plant. The wells have connections to the City of Las Cruces water lines in the case of emergencies or peak usage but it’s rarely used. Water is used to flush out minerals from the boilers and chillers at the central plant. One of the areas consuming a large amount of water is the central plant for air conditioning. The total water being pumped from the wells for the university in 2018 is 839,084-kilo gallons. 

Irrigating Turf: NMSU is projected to use a total of 169,997,508 gallons in 2018 for irrigating turf on campus. He said the university has thousands of trees and 200 acres of turf. The water systems are turned off when rain is forecasted to save water.

Water Conservation


The Facilities and Services Grounds Department uses xeriscaping on approximately 20% of the campus with many more xeriscaped landscapes to come. Xeriscaping is a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques as well as the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation.






Xeriscaping principles

1. Planning, design, plant selection
2. Soil amendment
3. Resourceful use of water through efficient irrigation
4. Mulch
5. Turf alternatives, such as native grasses
6. Maintenance


In the news:

Campus water consumption falls from the previous year – Leah Romero – November 8, 2018

NMSU researchers, EBID develop metrics for water-resource management, sustainability – Melissa Rutter – October 5, 2019

A wellspring of innovation: NMSU researchers test new water conservation practices –  Darrell J. Pehr – May 29, 2019

NMSU researchers to install a subsurface irrigation system at the residence of UNM president – Jane Moorman – May, 31, 2019

NMSU Extension turf specialist helps New Mexico golf courses save water – Jane Moorman – July 22, 2016

NMSU looks at water conservation: Artificial turfgrass versus real grass –  Melissa R. Rutter – February 27, 2018

NMSU researchers to hold a workshop for the general public on subsurface drip irrigation – Melissa R. Rutter – May 17, 2018