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Is county serious about water?

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By Ralph Damiani

The council discussed water supply issues at its meeting Tuesday. Council was told that the county must have a conservation plan in place in order to use San Juan-Chama water, which could bring in an additional 1,200 acre-feet.There was also talk of special rates and conservation efforts to encourage – or force – people to cutback on water usage.But we think the main point that should be pushed was raised by Councilor Mike Wheeler when he asked whether progress had been made on the Los Alamos County Reservoir.Utilities Manager Buck Monday said that the project was currently stalled while waiting for an environmental impact statement. That is too bad.We have the availability to store thousands and thousands of gallons of water and we are letting it flow away.Yet, we can so easily talk of rate hikes, forced conservation and all that. What is wrong with that picture?The county should be pushing and pushing to get the reservoir back in operation. This effort – which could truly ease our shortage problem – should be pursued ahead of any talk of rate hikes or rationing.And while the council was told that it would be expensive to bring San Juan-Chama water up to Los Alamos, it must be noted that water “captured” in the reservoir is basically free.Of course the old fear of rising populations was raised and with that the fact that our water would “dry up” so to speak.But our population has been flat for a long time and it is not realistic to say that our population will see a big jump – ever. Even if that were true, we come back to the reservoir issue.We urge the county to get that project going, save that water, and then come back to us when that system is in place.