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V.20 No.50 | 12/15/2011
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com

Environment

Down by the Banks

Does our desert city have the right to drink from the Rio Grande?

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.

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news

When your eyeballs are like raisins, then it’s a drought. Maybe.

Play Youtube Video
“Drought” by Pelican

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.

More Videos

V.20 No.48 | 12/1/2011

Environment

How Dry Is Dry?

Officials aim to change what we call “drought”

The Water Authority aims to change when we officially call it “drought.”

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news

Water in the desert

Julia Minimata

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.

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