Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Salty Reserve May Hold Answer.(Final)

Byline: Tania Soussan Journal Staff Writer

* Alamogordo sits atop brackish water that, if cleaned, could supply cities for a long time

DRY HORIZON WATER IN THE WEST

Alamogordo residents can't run their sprinklers more than twice a week because the water they draw out of the Sacramento Mountains is in such short supply.

But the city is sitting atop a huge reserve of brackish ground water that could be the answer to the region's water problems.

The Tularosa Basin, underlying Alamogordo, is estimated to hold more than 200 million acre-feet of salty water -- water that can be put to use once it's treated. That would supply the city of Albuquerque for 1,000 years.

Desalination could be a major part of New Mexico and the West's water future. As technology brings down the price and other water resources dwindle, brackish reserves are being eyed by many communities.

"We have the advantage that the resource is there," said Kevin P. Heberle, Alamogordo's chief engineer. "With the technology we have to treat it, we have the supply to last hundreds of years.

"It's kind of our last resort," Heberle said. "The water that's potable naturally is being all used up. …

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