Note: This is an excerpt of a story that originally appeared in the Albuquerque Journal.
A small Cloudcroft startup is helping Navajo Nation ranches get a lot more bang for their production buck with a new solar-powered water system for rural areas.
Remote Well Solutions LLC will install its system this year on five Navajo ranches under a $1.25 million contract with the tribal government.
The system remotely monitors water levels in drinking tanks and automatically pumps and distributes water to keep storage units and watering bins filled across the ranch. That saves time and money for ranchers, who drive across vast areas to physically check on water tanks, while allowing cattle to spread out to more foraging zones since the system distributes water evenly throughout the ranch, said company founder and owner Mike Lisk.
The Navajo Department of Agriculture plans to install the system on 23 tribal ranches leased to Navajo ranchers, said Navajo Program Specialist Ferdinand Notah. It will replace inefficient and aging windmills, which only power one well in one spot where the cattle then tend to congregate.
New Mexico State University estimates the construction phase alone for the first five ranches will create about a dozen jobs with a $1.2 million economic impact. Once completed, the project could create more than 400 jobs with an annual impact of up to $36 million.