It’s just one sentence – 19 words – but its disappearance from a proposed 100-year plan to manage the Albuquerque Metro area’s water supply has critics saying its omission could dramatically draw down the aquifer in future years. The critics also charge it’s part of a plan by water insiders and consultants to flip Bernalillo County’s water strategy without any real public input and that it will work to the benefit of the proposed Santolina master-planned community on Albuquerque’s far West Side. This piece originally appeared in ABQ Free Press. The change is to the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority’s Water Resources Management Strategy, which was last updated in 2007. The current version of the strategy’s Policy B says, “The Authority shall limit the use of ground water except to meet peak demands or during times of drought.”
But that sentence is missing from the water authority’s proposed revised strategy, which could be approved by the utility’s board of directors later this summer.
A massive new weapon has now deployed in the battle to clean up the Kirtland Air Force Base fuel leak: forty thousand pounds of granular activated carbon that is stripping aviation fuel constituents out of the contaminated water. At a cost of $14.2 million, the U.S. Air Force has built a system of three extraction wells, pipes and a 4,000-square-foot, full-scale treatment plant, complete with two metal vessels that each have 20,000 pounds of carbon, that has now cleaned 52 million gallons of water contaminated with ethylene dibromide. The full-scale treatment system became operational on December 31, 2015, and is now pumping and cleaning 400 gallons of water a minute, or 576,000 gallons a day. It has the capacity to treat 800 gallons a minute. The Air Force and the New Mexico Environment Department gave area residents a glimpse of the treatment system during a field trip to Kirtland on April 23.