NM utility plans experiment using Colorado water

May 10, 2013 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico utility plans to use some of the water it gets from Colorado to test the idea of pumping water underground in the Albuquerque area for use later during times of drought or high demand.

Starting next week, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority for about a month will inject the water underground by using a currently idle well that has been used in the past to pump water from the [auth] ground.

“If we’re able to store the water when we have it, then we’ll be able to use it when we don’t,” said Amy Ewing, a hydrogeologist with Daniel B. Stephens and Associates, one of the consultants working with the water utility on the project.

According to the Albuquerque Journal ( ), the water for the experiment that will run for a month or more will come from the utility’s allotment from the San Juan-Chama Project.

That project delivers Colorado River Basin water to New Mexico through tunnels, and the water goes into the Rio Chama for use in the Rio Grande Valley.

Albuquerque now uses a mix of San Juan-Chama water and groundwater.

The well is currently unused because of naturally occurring high arsenic levels that exceed federal safety levels in the groundwater below.

When the water is pumped back out, it will be tested to see if the clean San Juan-Chama project water has successfully pushed aside the arsenic-contaminated water.

Long-term use of the San Juan-Chama water for well pumping would come during the winter, when the San Juan-Chama drinking water system is not being used to its maximum capacity.

Additional water could be treated and stored underground to be pumped and used during high-demand summer outdoor watering season, or during drought years when the San Juan-Chama system has to be shut down.

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