ALBUQUERQUE, June 17 –  Because of the ongoing drought and the associated decline in river flows, the Water Authority will stop diverting surface water from the Rio Grande this week. The curtailment, slated to begin June 18, likely will last until November, and the utility’s service area will rely exclusively on groundwater in the interim.

“This week’s heat wave is a reminder that Bernalillo County and most of New Mexico remains in severe to exceptional drought,” said Steven Michael Quezada, Chair of the Water Authority governing board. He explained that flows of native Rio Grande water will therefore be too low in coming months to allow diversion of the utility’s imported San Juan-Chama surface water.

“We’ll be relying exclusively on groundwater for drinking, probably until November,” Quezada said. “Groundwater is our ‘savings account’ for times like this, and I urge everyone to conserve as much water as possible this summer so we can minimize withdrawals from our reserve supply.” He said conservation is especially important since this is the second consecutive year in which dry conditions have forced an extended surface-water shut-down.

Recommended conservation measures include:

  • Adhering to mandatory time-of-day watering restrictions: No sprinkler irrigation between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Avoiding water waste (e.g., allowing water to flow or overspray onto streets and sidewalks. Water waste fines are double during the drought).
  • Following the Water by the Numbers program and limiting irrigation to three days per week during the summer.
  • Replacing thirsty turf areas with desert-friendly xeriscapes (visit abcwua.org or 505Outside.com for rebate information).
  • Troubleshooting irrigation systems for leaks, damage and malfunctions
  • Installing a WaterSense-certified “smart” irrigation controller (rebate information at abcwua.org or 505Outside.com)

Quezada also reminded Water Authority customers to give special care to their trees during the drought.

“Don’t waste water, but don’t forget to water your trees,” he said. “An occasional deep watering will help them survive what promises to be a long, hot summer.”