Las Vegas asks residents to save water during wildfire - Albuquerque Journal

Las Vegas asks residents to save water during wildfire

The Bradner Reservoir is pictured just west of Las Vegas on April 14. The reservoir, which stores Gallinas River water for the city, is now in an evacuated area because of the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

As a massive wildfire moves closer to Las Vegas, the city is working to protect and conserve its water supply.

Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo said Monday evening that the city has “plenty of water,” and the water is safe to consume.

“The fire did get into parts of (Bradner) reservoir on a slow crawl, and I understand that the fires are controlled within the reservoir at this time,” Trujillo said.

City officials met Monday with state and federal agencies to discuss post-fire operations.

“We’re working on future plans, on making sure that the water remains safe,” Trujillo said.

Las Vegas City Councilor Barbara Perea Casey said the local fire department has been helping protect the water treatment plant just west of Storrie Lake.

“We have enough water for three months,” Perea Casey said. “We’ve also asked FEMA to help us with some kind of system that might protect the water from falling ash.”

The city derives almost all of its water from the Gallinas watershed.

Much of the watershed’s western region has burned in the fire. Monsoon rains this summer could send ash into the river.

City water is stored in the off-river Bradner and Peterson reservoirs and in the privately-operated Storrie Lake.

By Monday evening, all three reservoirs were in evacuation zones. Storrie Lake water is being used for firefighting operations.

Crews had built fire lines and thinned vegetation from the water treatment plant to the city reservoirs.

Perea Casey said that she and her husband will stay in their home unless law enforcement knocks on the door with mandatory evacuation orders.

As she coordinates with other city and state officials on emergency response efforts, the Las Vegas city councilor has packed important papers and supplies and is debating what to do with her potbelly pig.

“We’re hoping that the winds will calm down,” she said. “It’s been very difficult for everybody. Everybody’s extremely stressed.”

The city and the New Mexico Environment Department have asked Las Vegas residents to conserve water.

On Monday, the city issued a statement about water use during the “unprecedented fire event.”

“To ensure there will be plenty of water for the firefighters and for our community please be good stewards of our water and limit your water consumption to essential use only,” the city statement read.

The Environment Department confirmed Monday that the city’s drinking water is safe.

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.

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