Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mayoral Quickie

Having not read the Albuquerque Journal in a while (being out of state can do that), I missed an article about the Mayoral Candidates positions on Albuquerque's water future. Here's what they have to say, in turn, using the same order as my earlier post.

Romero said the Mayor's Office should take more interest in the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, which has a voting position reserved on its board for the mayor.
Chávez does not attend water authority meetings but sends his chief administrative officer instead.
"We can't just stomp our feet and say, 'I don't like this authority,' " Romero said.
He said more oversight of the authority from a mayoral administration could help coordinate conservation, growth and acquisition efforts.
Romero supports acquiring new water rights, and said the focus needs to be on conservation. He said the city's water conservation record can be improved in its golf courses, parks and buildings.
"The program (to improve city conservation) needs to be accelerated," he said.
Chávez touts his administration's water record with what he calls the most important act as mayor — pushing for the San Juan-Chama diversion project to get off the ground after decades of unused, city-owned surface water in the Rio Grande flowed past the city every year.
Chávez was one catalyst for the construction of the new water system in his first term.
Chávez said he supports desalination, but only as a short term measure. He said reuse systems and new technology, such as toilet-to-tap systems, "if people can get over the 'ugh' factor," would also be welcome in the city.
Chávez is also proud of the steep decline in water use per person in Albuquerque since the 1980s, where personal usage has dropped per capita by about 90 gallons a day.
He said the real improvements can come from the state Legislature, which could force surrounding areas that use the aquifer to implement conservation programs.
Chávez, a former state legislator himself, said the city can do "virtually nothing" to force conservation on other communities. The state has that power, however, he said.
"We can't continue to be the only entity with a meaningful conservation system," Chávez said.
Berry said the city needs a vision and a plan for conservation and future water sources. He said his administration would have a scheme to not only help look for new water rights, especially large water transfers like the San Juan-Chama project, but to also make sure the city is prepared to responsibly pay for it.
"I think the city should have a leader who ... helps drive the vision and helps implement the plan," he said.
Desalination of brackish water, using the aquifer for water storage and the large water transfers are all options to add to the city's water supply, he said. Conservation, for the short term, is the city's best bet for more water, he said.
"Enhanced conservation is the cheapest supply of new water," Berry said.
But Berry also warned that some conservation techniques he supports, such as water reuse systems and low-flow toilets, do not save any water for the city's new water system, which requires the city return its used water into the Rio Grande downriver. He said only new water supplies will satisfy large growth in the area.
My Take:

All the candidates argue for conservation as the first and best way to manage our cities water. Good. Romero wants the Mayor to take a more active role in water policy (which includes acquiring more water rights), Chavez says that the real change needs to happen in the state legislature, and Berry wants to marshal new resources in a way that allows for long term growth. Given that choice, I'm kind of disappointed in all of them, but least disappointed in Romero's position. The city needs a very strong orientation towards conservation, because any growth that happens without it will only make the city much more likely to die out. Marty Chavez should be able to step up on this - the Albuquerque/Rio Grande corridor is the biggest fish in the NM water usage pond (I believe - correct me if I'm wrong), and the mayor of ABQ can do a lot more with that than he thinks he can. Romero sees that active role, but doesn't have any more sweeping vision. As for Berry, he sees conservation as a way to enable growth, which isn't inherently bad so much as a little risky.

Your thoughts?

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