Citizen Action New Mexico supports Senate Memorial (SM) 80.
The City of Albuquerque currently delivers roughly 35 billion gallons of water annually. Another 400,000 people will require an additional 12 billion gallons more than Albuquerque currently produces. The shortfall of water that ABQ can get from its allotment from the San Juan Chama diversion on the Rio Grande is approximately 3.3 billion gallons annually. But can that difference be made up from increased ground water pumping?
The rosy ABC Water Utility Authority estimate for servicing increased population growth of another half million people in Albuquerque does not take into consideration such factors as: water shortages from extensive contamination of the groundwater aquifer, reductions in San Juan Chama water, tribal river claims, reduction in river water from groundwater mining, changing climate, drought and loss of watershed from fire, shortages for agriculture, endangered species requirements (silvery minnow), accelerated runoff from urban growth and arsenic levels that must be diluted. The estimate does not identify the future growth already on the planning books that has not been supplied, nor does it show the levels of growth that may be applied for in the future.
There are no studies in place that have calculated the reduction of potable water supply that will result from the KAFB jet fuel spill that took place in the most productive portion of Albuquerque’s aquifer. The Ridgecrest wells along with 45 municipal wells to the northeast are threatened by the KAFB extremely toxic plume of Ethylene Dibromide (EDB). Just two of the Ridgecrest municipal wells supply 10 million gallons per day. There is no comprehensive plan for cleanup of the ethylene dibromide (EDB) in Albuquerque’s aquifer.
ABQ intends to shut down wells rather than deliver EDB-contaminated water to users. ABQ has 98 municipal wells. One half of the wells are shut down because of high arsenic contamination levels. Before the plume of EDB reaches the municipal wells, the EDB will contaminate hundreds of billions of gallons of water in the aquifer. The aquifer in the Ridgecrest area is low in arsenic and used to blend down wells with higher arsenic levels. Losing the aquifer to EDB means losing capacity to blend down arsenic in other wells.
Nitrate and TCE are contaminating the aquifer in numerous other locations at Kirtland and Sandia National Laboratories. Kirtland’s unlined dumps often contain dozens of organic solvents that lie above Albuquerque’s aquifer. Sandia Labs’ Mixed Waste Landfill contain radioactive isotopes such as Cesium-137, Plutonium-239 and high level nuclear mixed waste from meltdown experiments that can explode and start uranium fires in the middle of Albuquerque.
Gigantic planned communities can clog us up and drain us dry. Mesa Del Sol - a huge infill development near the airport, is a perfect examples of runaway sprawl. The Mesa del Sol residential development will have 35,000 homes with another 100,000 residents that need water. Residential usage (average 150 gallons per day per capita) X (100,000 planned residents) X (365 days) will require an additional delivery of 5,475,000,000 gallons per year (16,800 acre ft yr) just for Mesa del Sol.
The 55,000 West Mesa acres that used to belong to the Westland Development Co., now called the Santolina development is another version of urban sprawl in an area known to have high levels of arsenic in its volcanic soil.
The supply of potable uncontaminated water to serve existing Albuquerque residents is in question. Forget about serving additional hundreds of thousands of persons due to already approved but unfilled developments along with the massive new proposed developments.
The Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission (OSE/ISC) informed the NM State Legislature in a report for a funding request to update the lower Rio Grande regional water plan that:
“OSE/ISC concludes as more time passes, and water problems increase in magnitude statewide, existing regional water plans are outdated and useless in addressing emerging water crises.”(Emphasis supplied).