ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new report says Albuquerque water use dropped seven percent last year amid an ongoing drought.
The Albuquerque Journal reported (http://goo.gl/LX8aWw) Saturday that the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority says the percentage was the biggest one-year drop since 1997.
Officials said the community’s total water use for the year, 32 billion gallons, was the lowest for the metro area since 1983. That comes despite the fact that the population in the utility’s service area has grown 70 percent in the two decades since.
But officials say conservation efforts helped keep water usage down. Katherine Yuhas, a water conservation officer for the utility, said incentive programs such as offering rebates for tearing out lawns had an effect. But Yuhas also credited changing attitudes among residents.
“It’s all human behavior. It’s all people doing the right thing,” Yuhas said.
Albuquerque water use began dropping in May and June, even as drought left the Rio Grande nearly dry and Albuquerque gardens parched. While there was rain in July and a record wet September, the climate has been dry since October. Officials are expecting a low runoff on the state’s rivers this year.
The weekly federal Drought Monitor currently classifies Bernalillo County as in moderate drought status.
The low water usage rates may affect the budget for Albuquerque’s main utility. Water utility officials are trying to balance the fiscal year 2013-14 budget, which is seeing revenue shortfalls.
David Morris, the spokesman for the Albuquerque water authority, said the agency will get a better sense of the financial situation after seeing spring water usage numbers.