Water plan update: Better; problems remain

The county is in the midst of updating its Long Range Water Supply Plan. The goal of this plan is to analyze water demand for the county, including LANL, and lay out options for meeting that demand, with a planning horizon of 40 years.

In our view, the second draft is better but still has several important problems. Factors which favor development of San Juan-Chama water are well-represented, but factors which don’t are included only briefly or declared out of scope. For example, a key scenario is that the county might choose to supply LANL without LANL contributing any of its water rights; this scenario isn’t justified and seems implausible to us. On the other hand, the draft is dismissive of scenarios such as conservation reducing demand, return flows being credited (treated wastewater and re-injection of decontaminated water), and groundwater contamination addressed with upstream wells or treatment. The draft also ignores environmental, historic, and quality of life issues that may affect development of San Juan-Chama water in White Rock Canyon.

We argue that all significant, credible factors deserve a careful, open-minded treatment. We have asked the DPU to revise the plan again to address these issues.