Water Use Is Up

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Heat and little rainfall made this summer tough on Albuquerque residents. As temperatures drop and August draws to a close, fall can finally be seen creeping over the Sandias. We survived the summer of 2007–not because of our love for unbearable heat, but due to an effective yet short-sighted technique: upping our water usage.

"What we are seeing now is we are above last year’s usage and that raises a red flag," says Katherine Yuhas, water conservation officer for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Utility Authority. Going into summer, the city had 1.3 billion gallons of water less than the same time last year, which yielded record-breaking rainfall, Yuhas says. That’s enough water to fill 2,600 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

From April to October, the use of sprinklers is prohibited within city limits from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. If people are caught using sprinklers during this time, they can be charges with fines ranging from $25 to $1,000. Without a noticeable decrease in water use, Yuhas says next summer might call for more mandatory water restrictions such as even-odd watering schedules. "If you’d like to avoid having that happen, it would be a good idea to regulate your usage now."

For tips on how to conserve water, visit the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Utility Authority’s website at www.abcwua.org.

—Hayley Shoemaker

Report Animal Cruelty On State Hotline

Now you can report cases of animal cruelty anywhere in the state, 24 hours a day, by calling the Animal Cruelty Taskforce (ACT) toll-free hotline at (888) 260-2178 . The hotline was up and running Tuesday, Aug. 28, as part of Attorney General Gary King’s efforts to stem animal fighting and related crimes in the state.

“It is the next progression in trying to reduce animal cruelty in the state of New Mexico. It’s a new tool for law enforcement to use in cracking down on animal cruelty cases,” says Phil Sisneros, communications director for the attorney general.

The Humane Society of the United States has also offered a $5,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals involved in dog fighting.

“[Dog cruelty cases] have been a problem in New Mexico for some time. What the taskforce is trying to do is to make sure these types of cases get prosecuted, and that they’re followed up and don’t fall through the cracks,” says Sisneros.

After calling the hotline, a member of the taskforce will notify the proper authorities.

—Thomas Gilchrist

Santa Fe Living Wage May Change

By the end of October, the Santa Fe City Council will decide on a measure that would prevent the city’s minimum wage from rising to $10.50 an hour, yet would also expand the wage to apply to all employees.

Santa Fe’s minimum wage rose to $9.50 on Jan. 1, 2006, and was expected to up to $10.50 on Jan. 1 of next year. But an agreement reached by local business and labor communities in June, if it is approved by the Council, would halt the next increase. In exchange, Santa Fe’s minimum wage, which is still the highest municipal wage law in the country, would apply to all employees, instead of only to workers belonging to businesses with 25 or more employees, as it stands now. The agreement would also include a measure allowing an automatic cost of living increase each year beginning Jan. 1, 2009.

“It isn’t a done deal, and that’s why we’re trying to get as many people and organizations to say this gets rid of the acrimony that we’ve had every time we’ve tried to push forward the current wage," says Carol Oppenheimer, co-chair of the Living Wage Network. "We’re hoping that this time the councilors will listen and take pride in having made this happen without conflict.”

—Thomas Gilchrist
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