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Cañoncito area residents to get water soon

Andy Ortiz, vice president of the Cañoncito of Apache Canyon Mutual Domestic Water Association, stands near the community’s water tanks. The system’s wells are nearly dry and the county has had to step in to help. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Residents in the Cañoncito area have been without water since May 5, but, hopefully, not for much longer.

The Santa Fe County Commission approved an emergency resolution to create a temporary waterline for the Cañoncito community via the Apache Canyon Mutual Water Association. The waterline will connect the community to the Eldorado Area Water and Sanitation District as a temporary solution. It is expected to be completed and running by the end of the week.

“People are clearly suffering out there,” Commissioner Anna Hansen said.

County commissioners approved a $185,318 expenditure for the waterline Tuesday on a 4-0 vote with District 3 Commissioner Rudy Garcia absent.

The county had already been planning a permanent waterline to the area estimated to be complete by March 2022. The permanent water line will connect residents to the Buckman Direct Diversion water supply through the Rancho Viejo storage tank.

Commissioners thanked county staff for their quick response to the problem.

“Providing these necessities that our constituents need is something that needs to always be in the forefront,” said Henry Roybal, the commission chairman. “I’m really proud of the fact that we took care of this and that we are moving forward.”

In addition to the Cañoncito community, Commissioner Hank Hughes said people are concerned about the county’s overall water supply.

He said he heard from people in La Cienega requesting the county write a letter to the city of Santa Fe expressing concern about the return-flow pipeline the city plans to build. That pipeline is designed to return effluent water to the Rio Grande as an offset to water the city is entitled to take out as part of the San Juan-Chama water agreement. However, people in La Cienega are worried that means less water will flow down the Santa Fe River to where they live.

The county has also approved several new developments near Santa Fe Community College and Hughes said he’s heard concerns from people about committing to new housing developments during a drought. Hughes said his constituents are worried there won’t be enough water to support the new developments.

Commissioner Anna Hamilton, who is also a volunteer firefighter, mentioned the importance of fire safety during the drought. She said the smoke settling over Santa Fe County is primarily from fires in Arizona, but there have also been some fire starts in New Mexico.

She added there’s some possible good news in that forecasters predict an increase in estimated precipitation this summer.

“Predictions don’t necessarily mean anything, but we might have a better monsoon than we earlier thought,” Hamilton said. “We can be hopeful.”

Tuesday’s meeting was the second “hybrid” meeting the commission has held in person since COVID-19 restrictions were eased. Commissioners moved back into the commission chambers in the newly renovated county administration building at 102 Grant Avenue. They had been meeting in cramped quarters at the newly built administration building two blocks away on Catron Street.

Members of the public can attend the meetings in person as long as they wear a mask and comply with the county’s COVID-19 regulations.

The meetings are also being livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook, with some county staff and members of the public speaking virtually.