Stuff I Wrote Elsewhere III: ABQ Water

Also from this morning’s paper, a brief report (business model, ad/sub yada) on yesterday’s Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly meeting. I tried to balance the progress made on water conservation with the grim message I’ve been pushing in my recent work on this regarding the supply-demand deficit in New Mexico’s heavily populated middle valley:

Water users along the Middle Rio Grande have made major strides in responding to our water deficit, experts said during a meeting Saturday in Albuquerque. But there is much more to be done if we are to avoid long-term problems because of our continued unsustainable water use, they said.

“We need to do more,” said Steve Hansen, a staff member of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and one of the founders of the Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly.

I’m curious whether y’all think “sustainable” is a good word here. Its plain English meaning is relatively straighforward, and it clearly applies here: the numbers show that we’re using more water each year than nature supplies, depleting ancient reserves in the process. But has “sustainable” acquired fuzzy baggage, a political context that has moved its connotations beyond its plain English meaning in a way that weakens its ability to make a straightforward point?


  1. Stealing from what I learned from Zetland et al., sustainable sometimes does not include the built in growth of a city.

    So a good definition of sustainable might be sustainable for 50 years meaning that the water budget not only has to balance this year but every year for at least 50 years. In the expanded definition, projected population and industry growth and projected increases in per capita usage would all have to be included to be sure that the level was ‘sustainable.’

Comments are closed.