V.21 No.29 | 7/19/2012
Chaly / CC by-S.A. 2.0
Southwest farms bite the dust as “megadrought” becomes the new normal
By Ari LeVaux
In a dirt parking lot near Many Farms, Ariz., a Navajo farmer sold me a mutton burrito. He hasn't used his tractor in two years, he told me, and he’s cooking instead of farming because "there isn't any water." He pointed east at the Chuska mountain range, which straddles the New Mexico border. In a normal year, water coming off the mountains reaches his fields, he said.
V.21 No.16 | 4/19/2012
Mining the Law
An interview with Pete Domenici Jr., attorney for industry
By Carolyn Carlson
For Domenici Jr., it's a question of balance: "You start with the premise that the reality is that human beings will affect their environment when resources are developed," he says. "So as a society we have to figure out ways to protect the environment while allowing population growth and economic growth to occur."
V.21 No.15 | 4/12/2012
Super Sucker Smackdown
By Christie Chisholm
The State Engineer rejects a company’s application to pump water from beneath tiny Datil, N.M. But Augustin Plains Ranch LLC vows to fight back.
V.21 No.11 | 3/15/2012
Tonight! Outdoor cinema at the Banff Mountain Film Festival
By Laura Marrich [ Tue Mar 20 2012 4:19 PM ]
The world-touring film fest makes a pit stop at the KiMo Theatre at 7 p.m. Its fluid and beautifully shot collection of short films features mountain culture, outdoor sports and environmental subjects—including Chasing Water, previewed in this week’s feature. Bonus: $10 to $12 tickets benefit the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the Mountain Fund.
A River Ran Through It
The tale of the once-mighty Colorado waterway, part of Tuesday’s Banff Mountain Film Festival tour stop
By Traci Hukil
In a sense, photographer Pete McBride has been preparing to make Chasing Water all his life. Raised on a cattle ranch in central Colorado, he grew up working hay fields irrigated by snowmelt that carved the Grand Canyon and slaked the thirst of the Southwest. “I often used to think about water,” says McBride in the film. “I wondered how much went into our fields and how much returned to the creek ... I wondered how long it would take irrigation water to reach the sea.” Later, as a photographer for National Geographic, Outside and Men’s Journal, McBride traveled to some of the world’s most exotic locales—often, as it happened, shooting stories that related in some way to water.
V.21 No.8 | 2/23/2012
From Toilet to Tap
Rio Rancho plans to pour effluent into the aquifer
By Christie Chisholm
Rio Rancho’s waste is being wasted. The same is true for most cities, which treat their sewage well enough to be used for gray water purposes but then send it downriver. Due to the plight of the desert and a rapidly growing population, Rio Rancho no longer wants to send off its sewage.
V.20 No.50 | 12/15/2011
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Down by the Banks
Does our desert city have the right to drink from the Rio Grande?
By Christie Chisholm
In 2008, the city stopped relying solely on a rapidly dwindling aquifer. Our water utility flipped a switch, and the Drinking Water Project came online. The good news is the project seems to be working. The bad news is the New Mexico Court of Appeals just ruled the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority doesn’t have the rights for the Rio Grande.
V.20 No.49 | 12/8/2011
When your eyeballs are like raisins, then it’s a drought. Maybe.
By Marisa Demarco [ Fri Dec 2 2011 3:34 PM ]
Remember when it didn’t rain for months, and the sun punched you during the day? And because of fires devouring trees in every direction, the moon glowed orange at night through the smokey haze?
I think the superheavy instrumental act Pelican sums it up nicely in this number. -------->
But, more to the point, the Water Utility Authority is looking to change how it defines levels of drought. The utility bases drought on how much water we suck from the aquifer under our desert outpost. When the city drinks more than projected, officials can initiate a drought advisory, watch, warning or emergency. As the level increases in urgency, so do water-use restrictions.
But the utility is looking to change the game and proposed new rules. If they come to pass, we’ll have to use up way more aquifer water before an advisory goes into effect. And water-use restrictions would not be tied to the level of drought that’s been initiated. Even if an emergency is declared, your neighbor won’t necessarily have to stop washing her Escalade for hours every afternoon. Instead, the board that oversees the utility will select from a menu of remedies and impose them on customers.
All this and more in this week’s news section.
V.20 No.48 | 12/1/2011
How Dry Is Dry?
Officials aim to change what we call “drought”
By Jack King
The Water Authority aims to change when we officially call it “drought.”
V.20 No.46 | 11/17/2011
Water in the desert
By Marisa Demarco [ Tue Nov 15 2011 3:36 PM ]
In this week’s news section, reporter Jack King highlights a lack of transparency when it comes to the Dirt City’s water supply.
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority spent millions on a project that’s designed to take some of the strain off our aquifer. We divert water from the Colorado River Basin and add it to the Rio Grande. But the utility hasn’t met its relief objectives for 2009 and 2010, and the governing board had no idea, according to King’s story.
The utility’s promised to up its transparency game.
This week, County Commissioner Art De La Cruz wrote a letter to the Alibi defending the project. He writes:
First and foremost, after three years of project operation the U.S. Geological Survey is reporting that the aquifer is showing signs of rebound. According to the USGS New Mexico Water Science Center, increases in winter groundwater levels (which are most representative of aquifer condition) are being observed. This is consistent with predictions from model simulations wherein groundwater pumping was reduced in favor of using surface water. Given that the water-level trend had generally been downward through the early part of this decade, the reversal is an extremely positive development.
Read the rest of his letter in the next edition of the Alibi, which will be online tomorrow evening. And look for another article by King in the coming weeks.
V.20 No.45 | 11/10/2011
Is the Dirt City’s H20 plan working?
By Jack King
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority says its Drinking Water Project was launched to relieve an overtaxed aquifer. But the utility is falling behind in its objectives—and it's only now admitting why.
V.20 No.35 | 9/1/2011
Mary Ann Goins
Market Report: Bernalillo
A pueblo harvest
By Ari LeVaux
Each time I show up at a growers' market, it’s like coming home. Even if it's one I've never visited. As soon as it comes into view, I feel like I already know the people I'm about to meet, like I've slipped into a recurring dream that’s always different yet familiar. That’s why if, during the next few weeks, you don’t find yourself reading about too many restaurants in this space, I hope you understand. I haven’t been eating at restaurants much. Instead I’ve been haunting the markets, bringing home the goodness and cooking it into 10,000 permutations of green chile, corn, calabacitas, garlic and meat, and washing it down with melon juice.
V.20 No.33 | 8/18/2011
Everyone knows arsenic is a poison, but did you know it's in your water too? Low levels of arsenic in your glass are naturally occurring. The Environmental Protection Agency says that drinking water must have fewer than 10 parts per billion of arsenic to prevent harmful effects of long-term exposure. According to the 2010 report by the Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority, these water zones have as high as 8 parts of arsenic per billion. It’s worth keeping an eye on. Check your zone here: bit.ly/abqarsenicwater. (EK)
Kirtland Air Force Base
Kirtland Air Force Base is a morass of frightening stuff—namely, nuclear weapons and a massive jet fuel hemorrhage. Although Air Force head honchos neither confirm nor deny numbers, an estimated 2,000 nuclear warheads lie in underground storage at the base. If the threat of a Duke City nuclear holocaust isn’t enough, there’s also Albuquerque’s version of the BP spill. Millions of gallons of Air Force jet fuel creep closer and closer to southeastern Albuquerque neighborhoods every day. The base says the fuel seepage originated during a ’50s era pipe leak. Although it hasn’t hit drinking water wells, it has reached the monitoring wells and is nearing reserve water sources. (EK)
Sandia Labs Mixed Waste Landfill
The EPA says the Sandia Labs Mixed Waste Landfill isn’t a threat, but a 2011 report by Citizen Action says otherwise. The mixed-waste landfill lies directly above the main source of water for 600,000 Albuquerque residents. From 1959 to 1988 the landfill was used for disposal of low-level radioactive materials. Contaminants include nickel, cadmium, nitrate and chromium, all of which can cause nasty health problems with overexposure. What’s more, Mesa del Sol—a “green” community development touting that its “respect for the environment result[s] in a healthier, simpler, more sustainable way to live”—just broke ground adjacent to the site. (EK)
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