Dry and high: More conservation needed

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By Katy Korkos

The condition of the county’s water supply was the subject of a briefing by Department of Public Utilities Manager Robert Monday when council met Tuesday evening. ”We live in a high desert environment,” Monday said. “We’re mining this aquifer. We’re taking more out than we’re putting back.” The county currently has water rights for 5,541 acre-feet of water per year, and the San Juan Chama project will bring an additional 1,200 acre-feet of rights to the county. Monday described several issues for councilors to consider with San Juan-Chama water, the first being that it will be expensive to get that water up to Los Alamos. The second concern is that the county is “junior” in its rights to that water, and in the case of a lawsuit, more senior rights-holders would have the first priority to that water. “San Juan-Chama has conservation requirements,” Monday said.The county must have a conservation plan in place in order to use that water, and a 12-percent reduction in domestic use is part of that plan. Although the utilities department had envisioned an inclining block water rate as an important component to water conservation, and the public had expressed their support of the inclining rate in a survey, the rate was not approved by council.

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