Water Utility Authority Update

UPDATE: June 23, 2021

Utility Ceases River Diversions in Response to Ongoing SW Drought

Because of the current drought and the associated decline in river flows, the Water Authority stopped diversions of surface water from the Rio Grande earlier this month. The curtailment likely will last until November, and the utility’s service area will rely exclusively on groundwater in the interim.

This week’s heat wave is a reminder that Bernalillo County and most of New Mexico remain in severe to exceptional drought,” said Steven Michael Quezada, Chair of the Water Authority governing board. He explained that flows of native Rio Grande water will therefore be too low in coming months to allow diversion of the utility’s imported San Juan-Chama surface water.

“We’ll be relying exclusively on groundwater for drinking, probably until November,” Quezada said. “Groundwater is our ‘savings account’ for times like this, and I urge everyone to conserve as much water as possible this summer so we can minimize withdrawals from our reserve supply.” He said conservation is especially important since this is the second consecutive year in which dry conditions have forced an extended surface-water shut-down.

Recommended conservation measures include:

  • Adhering to mandatory time-of-day watering restrictions: No sprinkler irrigation between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Avoiding water waste (e.g., allowing water to flow or overspray onto streets and sidewalks. Water waste fines are double during the drought).
  • Troubleshooting irrigation systems for leaks, damage and malfunctions.
  • Installing a WaterSense-certified “smart” irrigation controller (rebate information at abcwua.org or 505Outside.com)

Quezada also reminded Water Authority customers to give special care to their trees during the drought. “Don’t waste water, but don’t forget to water your trees,” he said. “An occasional deep watering will help them survive what promises to be a long, hot summer.”

Technology Solution for Hydrant Flushing Waste

With the drought continuing unabated, conservation is as important as ever. And the newest conservation tool in the Water Authority’s arsenal is a locally manufactured piece of equipment that will save millions of gallons per year during routine waterline flushing.

The Neutral-Output Discharge Elimination System (NO-DES) is a self-contained, truck-mounted setup designed to eliminate the waste associated with hydrant flushing, a necessary maintenance procedure that can send thousands of gallons of potable water down the storm drain.

The NO-DES truck works by connecting two hydrants in the water distribution system to create a temporary loop. Pressurized water is then circulated through the loop with enough velocity to scour the pipes between the two hydrants. All the water is routed through a filtration system to ensure that it’s clean and free from sediment when it’s returned to the system.

 “Our goal with this equipment is to decrease water waste and improve the quality of water for our customers,” said Chief Engineer Joel Berman, who oversees the Water Authority’s drinking water distribution system.