Water Authority Pamphlet “Drought 2021”

Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority has published a newspaper insert “Drought 2021” addressing the water situation and the agency’s activities during the pandemic.

It presents some facts and Water Authority perspectives and PR:

• What it means for Albuquerque and Bernalillo County
• What you can do to help save water this spring and summer
• The Water Authority’s long-term plan to ensure a resilient water supply

Climate change experts warn a bad year now will be will be average a few decades from now. Is this drought, or is the beginning of a future with less surface water?

The Water Authority’s 100-year water plan calls for substantially increased total water use and depletions. It doesn’t consider that the Middle Rio Grande is using more water now than it is legally entitled to consume. Total paper water rights, including the Water Authority’s, substantially exceed the Middle Rio Grande’s legal share of physically available wet water. Water users downstream from Elephant Butte Dam have a legal right to more than half of the Rio Grande annual flows at the Otowi river gage.

The Water Authority’s long-term plan seems to imply that responsibilities to live within the Middle Rio Grande’s legal share of the Rio Grande will fall on everybody else. Such a underpinning would be inequitable and unfair.

We’re already in trouble. New Mexico has an annual (variable) obligation to deliver water to Elephant Butte. The past decade’s annual over-use/under-delivery trend is bad. It will not take many more under-deliveries to throw the Middle Rio Grande’s water supply into legal jeopardy.

Click here to read “Drought 2021.”