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A hole, a small town, and the US government

By: Rae Arnett

My hometown of Nara Visa has been in the news lately, which is an odd occurrence all on its own. There are no gas stations, grocery stores, or police stations. The population of the town isn’t much, if I had to wager, I would bet there are more abandoned buildings in Nara Visa than occupied ones. So what has caused such a stir in this sleepy community?

A proposed test bore site done by the company Enercon is what has everyone interested in my little town. The site would be testing the viability of the land to store nuclear waste, and while there is nothing in the works to make the site an operational nuclear waste storage facility, at the moment, it’s not a risk some in the area are willing to take. 

My own father, Mark Arnett, raised his concerns and they were not about little ol Nara Visa, but rather about the Ogallala Aquifer. 

“I can’t imagine drilling through the Ogallala to make a hole to put nuclear waste in, it’s just asking for trouble,” said Arnett.

I agree, and not just because he is my dad. The Ogallala is an essential piece to surviving in Eastern New Mexico, West Texas, and six other states. Remember all those seemingly silly reminders to water on certain days, or the pipeline from Ute Lake to Curry and Roosevelt Counties? Those reminders and that pipeline are being built because water is such a precious resource in our area. For the people with the “mind your own business” attitude, I can think of a few people who would say to manage your own water better.

The thought of potentially contaminating that water is enough to make me run for the hills, so imagine how the locals who still live in Nara Visa feel. Are you starting to understand why you should be attentive, if not concerned, about the situation?

It’s hard to trust something new, even if it comes with the promise of revitalization and more jobs in the area. If anything, those big promises would make people more gun-shy. Why would you want to bring jobs and revitalization to a town that does not even have a gas station any longer? I am not disparaging Nara Visa; I love it, even if my cell phone does not work there. But, I also have a realistic outlook for the area. It’s an area for ranchers, not for the hustle and bustle. It’s a town you drive through, only those that are already intimate with its charms stop to look.

It was brought to my attention that some people thought these locals were overreacting. Maybe they were. But they are reacting for everyone who uses the Ogallala Aquifer, so I think we can cut them a break.

And for those that support the borehole, that is okay too. Revitalizing the community and the promise of more jobs is not something to dismiss in a hurry. It’s good to have the discussion, the debate, and to find a way through the new territory together. 

“In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest,” said William Penn.

A concept we should all keep in mind. Let’s debate to find the solution, not to disparage one another. Let’s debate to decide if this is right for the Nara Visa area, Eastern New Mexico, and the Ogallala Aquifer.