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Ruidoso Is Preparing for Water Crisis

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Hoping to head off a water crisis, Ruidoso village officials are moving ahead with short- and long-term projects to ensure a water supply in the future and more immediately, for the dry year forecast for 2012.

Visitors and residents will be asked to help by curbing their water consumption on lawns, at restaurants and at local lodging.

Village Councilor Gloria Sayers said Tuesday that last weekend she walked around Grindstone Reservoir, one of the village’s main sources of untreated water. “It was shocking,” she said of the low water level in the lake, down to 32.7 feet below the spillway. The norm is 16 feet below the spillway under the current restrictions connected to the safety of the dam structure until soft spots are filled.

Utilities Director Randy Camp reviewed a drought contingency plan with councilors, covering the water supply and water system interconnections. He called for renewed focus on reuse of treated effluent and consideration of a drought contingency ordinance. He outlined some immediate actions to relieve the pressure on Grindstone, which only refills when snowmelt or rainfall drives up the flow on the Rio Ruidoso and water can be diverted into the lake.

The village is suffering from a prolonged drought. With 10.12 inches of rain or liquid equivalent snow recorded from January through September, Ruidoso is at 56 percent of the average 18.08 inches for the nine months.

“When you live in New Mexico, this is what you have to think of, so we always will have water,” Camp said. “We are taking a proactive approach, which will add to the redundancy of the system and allow us to shuttle water to areas of greatest need.”

Because the flow on the Rio Ruidoso is barely a trickle, no water can be diverted into Grindstone, which usually accounts for 25 percent of the village’s supply and is replenished only by surface water.

“It’s one of the weaknesses in our system,” he said. “It is not drought resistant.”

The demand on Grindstone, about 600,000 gallons a day, can be decreased by piping in water from Alto and from the Cherokee Well, he said. Alto usually supplies about 7 percent of the village’s system using wells and surface water, he said. The pipes are in place at Cherokee to divert 200,000 gallons a day into the Grindstone system.
— This article appeared on page C01 of the Albuquerque Journal

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