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Water Utility Says Every Drop Counts

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With Bernalillo County slipping deeper into drought, officials with the metro area’s water utility are urging customers to conserve.

Total Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority customer usage through June 21 was 14.36 billion gallons, according to Katherine Yuhas, the utility’s conservation coordinator. That is down 4 percent from the same period last year.

But usage has been trending up in June, higher than in June 2011, Yuhas said.

Bernalillo County slipped from “moderate” to “severe” drought condition in Thursday’s federal Drought Monitor, a national update on conditions around the country.

While a thunderstorm soaked the southern part of the metro area Thursday evening, dumping 0.41 inch at the National Weather Service’s official Albuquerque rain gauge, most of the city missed out, continuing what has been a dry 2012. Even with the latest storm, the airport gauge has received just 2.3 inches of rain this year, 22 percent below average, according to the National Weather Service.

The Water Utility in recent weeks has been running its Rio Grande drinking water system “full blast” to reduce dependence on groundwater pumping to meet municipal needs through the summer, said John Stomp, the utility’s chief operating officer. The utility hopes to make maximum use of river water early in the summer because of the possibility that low river flows will force it to reduce Rio Grande water usage and shift back to more groundwater pumping later in the year, Stomp said Friday.

River water is currently making up approximately 63 percent of the water supplied to the utility’s customers in Albuquerque and surrounding areas, Stomp said.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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