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|San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project|
The Project, some 45 years in the making, will end dependence on an overtaxed aquifer by tapping into surface water transported from the Colorado River basin via the San Juan-Chama Diversion Project. In 1963, Albuquerque city leaders (including then-City Commissioner Pete Domenici) contracted for annual rights to a portion of this water, which descends from the southern Colorado highlands and eventually into the Rio Grande via a series of pipelines, tunnels and reservoirs.
The City of Albuquerque proposed use of the water for drinking after scientific studies in the early 1990s showed that Albuquerque’s aquifer – once thought to be virtually limitless – was smaller than originally believed, and being pumped twice as fast as nature could replenish it. But switching to surface water would be no easy task.
It took $400 million in new infrastructure to divert the water from the Rio Grande, treat the water to safe drinking water standards, and transport it. The Project was financed with seven dedicated rate increases over several years.
Among other things, those rate increases paid for:
Ratepayer dollars also were used to fund an ongoing conservation program. Permit requirements for the San Juan Chama Drinking Water Project call for an eventual reduction in Albuquerque’s per capita water usage to 155 gallons per day. Current usage stands at about 161 gallons per day, down from 252 gallons per day in the early 1990s.
Project construction, which began in 2004, was completed in 2008. Pipeline construction wrapped up in April of 2008, and the Water Treatment Plant was finished in November of 2008.
“It’s a change, but the new water is of the highest quality and will continue to meet or exceed state and federal standards for safe drinking water,” said John Stomp, Chief Operating Officer for the Water Authority. “It represents the best choice we have for ensuring our water future. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the leaders, past and present, whose vision made this project possible.”
About the Project
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority’s San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project will supply up to 90% of the metropolitan area’s future water. San Juan-Chama water diverted from the river will be transported to a state-of-the-art treatment plant, from which purified water will be delivered to Albuquerque area homes and businesses.
Under the Upper Colorado River Compact, New Mexico annually receives water from the Upper Colorado River’s basin for consumptive use. To bring this water into the state, federal legislation has authorized construction of diversions, conveyance channels, pipelines and tunnels, in addition to a dam (Heron Reservoir). The primary purpose of the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project is to provide water for the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area. City leaders have contracted for perpetual, or permanent, rights to 48,200 acre-feet of the water per year.
We are now moving quickly to begin using the San Juan-Chama water because our current system, which relies entirely on pumping groundwater from an underground aquifer, is being seriously depleted. Right now, only about 50 percent of the water pumped from that aquifer is recharged, or replenished. The rest is lost forever.
The San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project is one of six capital projects included in the overall Albuquerque Metropolitan Area Water Resources Management Strategy
These six projects are:
1) The North I-25 Industrial Recycling Project (Completed 2005)
2) The Northside Non-Potable Surface Water Reclamation Project (Completed 2005)
4) Drinking Water Supply Project
5) Aquifer Storage and Recovery – Future project involving putting water into the aquifer, then pumping it out in times of need. Can conserve large amounts of water that might otherwise evaporate.
6) Shallow Groundwater Irrigation – Future project involving developing a sustainable water replenishment program in the Central Valley that will provide about 900 acre-feet per year of shallow groundwater for irrigation.
Details regarding the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project, which is adding treated surface water to our drinking water supplies, is available by clicking on the following links:
|Last Updated ( Tuesday, 03 May 2011 )|