Company renews request to increase water use at Los Lunas plant - Albuquerque Journal

Company renews request to increase water use at Los Lunas plant

LOS LUNAS — The Niagara Bottling Co. is again asking the village of Los Lunas to increase the amount of water the company can extract from the aquifer that sits below Valencia County and beyond.

Last year, the company asked the village if it could more than double its water production from 285 acre-feet per year to 650 acre-feet per year after leasing water rights from Public Service Company of New Mexico. Following backlash from the community, Niagara rescinded its request.

Los Lunas Public Works Director Michael Jaramillo said this amended agreement between Niagara and the village is to protect the municipality in case the company’s lease for water rights falls through.

“The village is always concerned about our water production and our water use. We have a policy and a process for commercial and industrial developments,” Jaramillo said. “What we always want to do is make sure the village can produce the water that’s needed for any development including any kind of amended or increased development.”

Similar to 2021, Niagara again secured the water rights from PNM, which has been leasing out part of its water rights since beginning the retirement of the generating station in San Juan County, which is expected to close by the end of the year.

Jaramillo said the village would “without a doubt” be able to meet the increased water needs of the bottling plant since Los Lunas installed a new well that Niagara and the entire Los Morros Business Park will be pulling from — well No. 7 — as well as doubled the pumping capabilities of well No. 3.

“We have plenty of water and we have the ability to pump a lot of water,” Jaramillo said. “It is what it is but, like I said, they are bringing the water rights in. If something should change on their end, that’s why it’s on the agenda is to make sure we are not held responsible to provide them water if they lose any type of water rights.”

While the village will be considering the amended agreement with the water bottling company on Thursday, some residents are not happy about it.

“(Niagara) keeps wanting to go bigger in their system and produce more, but they don’t produce anything …,” said Duana Draszkiewicz, a member of Valencia Water Watchers and a member of the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors. “The water is already there; the water already belongs to the people. So, they aren’t producing anything, they are stealing it.”

A newly-amended water contract with Niagara, which will be heard during Thursday’s council meeting, could expand the company’s water use from 285 acre-feet per year to 700 acre-feet — more than 228 million gallons of water per year.

Niagara did not respond to the News-Bulletin’s request for comment prior to publication.

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