KUNM

water resources

Bernalillo County

Water has always been at the center of the controversy over Santolina, a massive project planned for over 20 square miles on a dusty mesa west of Albuquerque. The project got another boost Tuesday after officials voted to allow the project’s developers more time to come up with a plan for water use.

Joe Catron via Flickr / Creative Commons License

UNM’s Kiva Club, a Native American issues student club, and a Native American Studies class are holding a demonstration Thursday to show solidarity with tribes from across the country that are protesting the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.  

Laura Paskus/New Mexico In Depth

During the irrigation season in New Mexico, the Rio Grande is allowed to go completely dry in some stretches. Even Saturday’s intense thunderstorm in Albuquerque hasn’t sustained flows in some regions of the river south of the city.

Santolina Approval Stalls Without Water Contract

Jul 22, 2016
mtungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

 The Bernalillo County approval process for a huge housing development on Albuquerque’s west side stalled on Thursday.

The county planning commission chair blamed the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority for not working with Santolina developers to get a water contract in place that would spell out water availability for the 38,000-unit housing development.

Kevin Dooley via Flickr

It looks like state officials have scrapped a $1 billion proposal to divert water from the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico – but they’re still looking to spend $80 million to $100 million to take water from the river for towns and farmers.

LISTEN: Who Pays For Animas And San Juan River Cleanup?

Aug 18, 2015
Johnathan Thompson / High Country News

KUNM Call In Show 8/20 8a: The mustard-yellow plume has passed and the Animas and San Juan rivers are now open again. But how long will the toxic chemicals from the Gold King Mine spill linger? We'll find out what's being done to clean up the rivers - and ask, who should pay for it? Can mining companies be held accountable? Should the EPA pay because they triggered the spill?

We'd like to hear from you! Comment on Facebook or Twitter. 

Guests:

Rita Daniels/KUNM

Trucks delivered 200,000 gallons of water Thursday for irrigating crops in San Juan County after the Animas and San Juan rivers were closed due to contamination from the Gold King Mine spill. 

Rita Daniels/KUNM

People with domestic wells in the floodplain of the Animas and San Juan rivers are free to use their water today as of midday Friday, August 15, 2015. New Mexico lifted a ban on water use from these wells after initial tests showed no contamination from the Gold King Mine spill.

Peter Nathanson with the state’s Drinking Water Bureau said they inspected wells within 500 feet of the river where the groundwater level is higher than the river water. 

EPA: River Is Bouncing Back

Aug 12, 2015
Clyde Frogg via Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons License

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered agency offices nationwide to stop field investigation work for mine cleanups while they reassess the work to ensure there's no potential for spills similar to the one in Colorado.

Private Well Owners Making Do

Aug 11, 2015
Rita Daniels/KUNM

The first results from tests of the water in northwestern New Mexico contaminated by the Gold King Mine spill are expected on Wednesday. 

Governor Martinez Declares State Of Emergency For River Spill

Aug 10, 2015
Environmental Protection Agency

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared an emergency that frees up state funds to address a massive spill of wastewater from a Colorado mine into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Sascha Bruck via Wikimedia / Creative Commons License

Pollution of the Animas River was going on for over 100 years before gold and silver mining died down near Silverton, Colorado in the 1990s. So the recent 3 million gallon spill isn’t the first time the Animas River has been contaminated with mine waste.

Jonathan Thompson / High Country News

Farmington has shut off drinking water pumps from the San Juan River after about a million gallons of contaminated water from a mine spilled into the watershed upstream.

Bernalillo County Commission Approves Santolina

Jun 16, 2015
Kaveh Mowahed

Bernalillo County commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve the Santolina Master Plan and zoning. The huge development west of Albuquerque is to include 38,000 homes, plus commercial and open space.

Commissioners spent a lot of time discussing Santolina’s jobs forecasts – developers say the plan would bring two jobs for each home built. This sparked a debate on the definition of the word “job.”

But critics say the jobs predictions are inflated.

Andy Magee via Flickr

Some of the money from the Department of Energy’s settlement with New Mexico following a radiation leak at a nuclear waste storage facility last year will go to address stormwater issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show 5/7 8a: 

Bernalillo County commissioners are considering a residential development plan to build almost 40,000 new homes west of Albuquerque. Developers say it’s a smart, efficient way to plan for population growth and boost the local economy—but critics say it will hurt public health and burden dwindling water supplies. We’ll talk with Santolina’s planning team, public health researchers and South Valley farmers. 

Watering Restrictions Crimp Daytime Sprinklers

Apr 1, 2015
Karen Roe via Compfight

Watering restrictions are officially in effect for many New Mexicans.

Starting Wednesday, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority customers are prohibited from using sprinklers between 11a and 7p. 

Katherine Yuhas, Water Conservation Officer at the utility, said predictions for a moist spring and summer mean they could bank water in the aquifer by leaving it in the ground instead of pumping it.

Water A Concern For Santolina Critics, Hearing To Continue In May

Mar 26, 2015

Bernalillo County commissioners did not vote on whether to approve a controversial development plan at a hearing Thursday, instead scheduling additional time for public comments later this year.

Developers say the Santolina Master Plan community could someday be home to as many as 90,000 people.

Opponents spoke at a hearing this week in an effort to convince commissioners to vote down the plan. Many said Santolina would take away needed water resources in Albuquerque's South Valley.

County To Hold Hearing On Santolina Plan

Mar 24, 2015
Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The Bernalillo County Commission will hear testimony this week about a controversial proposal to build a huge planned community west of Albuquerque.

If approved, Santolina developers would turn about 14,000 acres of sprawling sand dunes into a mini-city complete with industrial parks and schools.

Gila River Diversion Plan Is Approved

Nov 24, 2014
Laura Paskus

The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission approved a controversial proposal Monday to divert water from the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico.

The project will draw water from the river, store it in reservoirs, then pipe it over the Continental Divide, to the New Mexico town of Deming. It will take 20 years to build and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Silver City resident Dutch Salmon said he’s disappointed by the commission’s vote but he’s still hopeful the project isn’t set in stone.

Ed Williams-KUNM

KUNM public health reporter Ed Williams traveled north to Taos County where he met with Marty Michael, a conservative voter in Questa. Michael is an active member of the community, and has worked with the county on water issues. 

“Drought, global warming’s affecting it, lack of rainfall, mother nature. It’s something that can’t be measured," Michael said. "The conservatives are interested in keeping our water here. No more water transfers.”  

Check out the other Voices Behind The Vote profiles!

NMED Open To Suggestions For Kirtland Fuel Cleanup

Oct 22, 2014
Rita Daniels

 

The New Mexico Environment Department took about 50 members of the public on an informational tour of the Kirtland Air Force jet fuel spill this week.  The tour group spent the day learning about the parts of  Albuquerque’s aquifer that have been contaminated.

Geologists said one of the issues that makes cleanup of the site so complicated is that the water table has risen in recent years, trapping some of the liquid jet fuel beneath the top of the aquifer.

National Drought Mitigation Center

    

We’ve gotten some rain recently in New Mexico, but that doesn’t mean the drought is letting up. Climatologists say it’s going to take more than just a sprinkle or two.

Extreme drought conditions are actually spreading in parts of New Mexico, despite the arrival of monsoon storms. A new map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows drought conditions worsening, especially in San Juan and Rio Arriba counties.

Advocates: Renewable Energy Saves Water

Jun 25, 2014
Sierra Club and 350 New Mexico

A group of environmentalists unveiled a plan today that would call for the state’s largest electric utility to increase their renewable energy portfolio.  This alternative to PNM’s plan would also drastically reduce water usage in a time of severe drought.