Water in the Albuquerque Mayoral Race

Somewhat surprisingly to me, Albuquerque’s water future has become an issue in our upcoming mayoral election. My Journal colleague Sean Olson, who used to cover the Water Utility Authority and now covers politics, interviewed the candidates for a piece in this morning’s paper:

You can’t talk about Albuquerque’s future without talking about water, and the current crop of candidates for mayor is starting to wade in.

The San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project opened this year to provide surface water to the city, a 50-years-in-the-making public works project that will wean the city off heavy pumping of the underground aquifer.

But the new system comes with a cost: Mandatory conservation measures imposed by the state water engineer require the city to drop from the current 162 gallons a person average to 155 gallons per day or face the prospect of losing the new water source.

With Albuquerque’s Oct. 6 election nearing, the Journal interviewed the three candidates for mayor about conservation measures, future planning and a water utility that is not directly controlled by the city. In the broadest sense, they were quizzed about how they would approach Albuquerque’s water future.

The issue is a bit tangled because the Water Utility Authority is separate from city government, but the mayor (or his representative) sits on the water utility’s board, and municipal decisions on things like land use planning and building codes play a central role in our water future.