Albuquerque’s water use continues to decline

The decoupling between water use and economic and population growth continues in Albuquerque, where we’ve cut per capita water use by more than half since the mid-1990s:

Albuquerque endured a hot, dry summer this year. Temperatures are still above average, and the monsoon season never made a big splash. But that hasn’t stopped the city from conserving water.

At its board meeting Wednesday, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority said customers, through Sept. 9, have used 812 million fewer gallons in 2019 compared with this same time last year. That equates to about 4 fewer gallons per person per day.

Not some magic bean thing going on here. The decoupling we’re seeing across the West, as water use declines even as populations grow, has become the norm. Here’s the aquifer beneath my house, rising:

USGS Del Sol Divider


  1. Of course, not all of this is due to Kumbaya let’s all be nice.

    Any water reduction agreement with the threat of a legal mailed fist behind it is NOT Kumbaya.

    And, it’s not just from other Anglos or whatever. Fleck’s own former paper noted how the state is fighting Navajos winning new San Juan water rights. That’s even though it says it agrees with the result.

    And, less non-Navajo water right on the San Juan means less water to divert to the Chama.

    Various pueblos had water rights confimed in 2017. Again, mailed legal fist, or threat of it, to established municipal users.

    There’s also the issue of water purity. I’m sure that Fleck knows Isleta won a ruling on that 20 years ago. And non-Puebloans using less water means that water that remains, or treated water that is better treated when returned to the river, will more easily meet the requirements.

    Also, the carrot of tax credits for low-flow showerheads, low-flush toilets, etc. and the stick of higher water rates have been part of the mix. The carrot could be called Kumbaya; the stick not so much.

    High Country News has done a number of stories on Indian water rights. Here’s one from a year ago.

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