Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

tapping into the river.

Byline: Dan McKay Journal Staff Writer

Duke City prepares for $150 million project to make Rio Grande water drinkable

For thirsty cities across the Southwest, water planning often amounts to little more than what John Stomp calls "pump and grow." In Albuquerque, city leaders are hoping those days soon will be gone.

Albuquerque is set to embark on a $150 million drinking-water project that would divert some water from the Rio Grande, treat it at a state-of-the-art plant and deliver it to customers' faucets.

Stomp, the city's water resources manager, says the project is desperately needed to slow depletion of the aquifer, which is Albuquerque's sole source for drinking water.

But there are questions.

Residents want to know how the water will taste. Others wonder whether Albuquerque's project will mean less water for irrigation, native plants and animals.

And a state official questions whether taking water out of the river will interfere with New Mexico's obligation to send water down the Rio Grande to Texas.

A three-month series of public meetings to start in January could tackle some of these questions. Stomp said he hopes to have six to eight meetings at least one in each quadrant of the city to discuss concerns and help the city choose a method for diverting water from the river.

"It's a significant investment in the future of the city," Stomp said.

Some history

Under a federal contract signed in 1963, Albuquerque has perpetual rights to about 48,200 acre-feet of water a year from the San Juan-Chama Project, which diverts water to the Rio Grande basin through a series of tunnels from southern Colorado. …

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