Article in The Albuquerque Tribune: Despite rain, water restrictions remain

If you managed to reduce use of a precious, limited resource, it’s unlikely you’d do anything to undermine your success.

But that’s just what would happen if drought-driven restrictions on water use were chucked, argues Alan Armijo, chairman of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.

In spite of the recent heavy rains and strides made in conserving water, the utility authority agreed Wednesday to maintain the water restrictions in place since July 1.

The board will revisit the issue at its next meeting, Sept. 20, to allow more time for analysis.

The restrictions – which Armijo said make city residents more aware and respectful of the resource’s scarcity in the desert – limit the days people can water their lawns and plants, and set fines for excessive water use.

Board member and City Councilor Martin Heinrich suggested reducing the amount of some of the fines.

But many officials and meeting attendees opposed dropping any portion of the restrictions.

Armijo called for the water restrictions to become permanent.

“We’re trying to get a mind-set change in place,” he said. “Saving water has to be . . . a long-term, automatic thing.”

Though this month has been one of the wettest on record for New Mexico, the rainfall has had little effect on the state’s drought, said Kelly Redmond, regional climatologist with Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nev.

“I guess I’d call it short-term relief,” he said. “The basic situation . . . is not going to be made up by one summer’s worth of even pretty good precipitation.”

A National Weather Service study shows statewide drought conditions have lessened following six weeks of heavy rains, but much of the state remains dry.

Not Albuquerque, however. Rainfall at the Albuquerque Sunport from June 26 to Aug. 13 was almost three times higher than normal.

FACT BOX

Water restrictions remain in place, at least through Sept. 20, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority agreed Wednesday night.

Restrictions include:

• Fines for wasting water starting at $40.

• Sprinklers cannot be used from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Even-numbered addresses can water Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Odd-numbered addresses can water Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

• No watering on Fridays.

• Extra charges for customers who exceed 400 percent of their average winter use.

• More info: 768-3655 or Water resources

Source: Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority

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