Fire could impact Las Vegas water system for years - Albuquerque Journal

Fire could impact Las Vegas water system for years

Slopes along Gallinas Canyon, pictured in May, burned by the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire. The fire burned thousands of acres in the Gallinas River watershed, where Las Vegas gets almost all of its water. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Las Vegas could face water issues from the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire for the next decade, city and state officials said Wednesday.

The fire burned thousands of acres in the Gallinas River watershed, where the northern New Mexico city gets almost all of its water.

Utilities Director Maria Gilvarry told the City Council that the municipal infrastructure can’t treat the turbid, ash-laden water from the burn scar.

“What we see coming down the river right now with all this sediment, next year it’s going to be logs and sediment,” Gilvarry said. “For years we’re going to have a huge challenge in this community.”

Las Vegas has about 63 million gallons of treatable water stored in Bradner Reservoir – a 40-day supply.

The state has authorized a total of $2.25 million in emergency money for the city to buy a new pre-treatment filtration system.

City officials said the system could be installed this week.

In the meantime, the city has implemented new water restrictions.

Car washes and swimming pools are shut down.

Utility employees are notifying businesses and residents if their water use is above average.

Many restaurants have switched to using paper plates, disposable utensils and bottled water.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funded a $7 million project to protect the city’s water diversions west of town from post-fire flooding.

The flood control structures are catching sediment and debris that enter the river after rains over the burn scar, said Jim Riesterer, a Glorieta Geoscience hydrologist consulting with the city on post-fire projects.

But cleaning the structures is labor-intensive and will require more federal funding.

“Everything was kind of done to get it through the monsoon season, but we all know that this is going to be going on for several years,” Riesterer said.

The pre-treatment filter system and flood barriers are temporary fixes.

But permanent – and costly – upgrades will likely be needed for the main Las Vegas water system.

Ash and debris have impacted the city’s Peterson Reservoir, which is not currently being used.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Jim Kenney applauded city officials for their work to deliver safe water to residents.

He said “the quality of the drinking water has actually improved” since the fire began because it’s being monitored closely by the city and the state.

The city owns some water storage space in Storrie Lake.

In May, State Engineer Mike Hamman, with the agreement of local water users, issued an order restricting irrigation water diversions out of Storrie Lake. The order aims to preserve water supply for Las Vegas.

“That’s been a significant hardship … from an agricultural perspective,” Hamman said.

State water and agriculture agencies are discussing plans to compensate farmers and ranchers who have suffered crop losses because of the lack of irrigation water.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Fire could impact Las Vegas water system for years


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
No limit: Channel Tres brings tour to Electric Playhouse
ABQnews Seeker
The creative process is one that ... The creative process is one that intrigues Channel Tres. 'I'm always creating and making sure family is good,' he says. 'Creating and writing is ...
2
APD investigating fatal stabbing
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque police are investigating a fatal ... Albuquerque police are investigating a fatal stabbing on Sunday afternoon. Officers were called to the area of Kathryn and Maderia SE on a reported ...
3
Gov. pledges $1.1M for film school, studio in Raton
ABQnews Seeker
The film industry continues to grow ... The film industry continues to grow in New Mexico. It's always been a goal to have film facilities in every point of the state. ...
4
Longer sentences have failed to reduce violent crime
ABQnews Seeker
Spiro Agnew, who served as vice ... Spiro Agnew, who served as vice president under Richard Nixon, memorably denounced the administration's enemies for their 'pusillanimous pussyfooting on the critical issue of ...
5
Outdoor rec projects receive $2M+ in state funding
ABQnews Seeker
The New Mexico Economic Development Department's ... The New Mexico Economic Development Department's Outdoor Recreation Division handed out more than $2 million to 20 projects statewide through its Outdoor Recreation Trails+ ...
6
Climate-fueled wildfires worsen dangers for struggling fish
ABQnews Seeker
A summer-long mission comes to a ... A summer-long mission comes to a quick end as cutthroat trout rescued earlier this year are released into new digs
7
Rain or shine, students fight for normalcy
ABQnews Seeker
Homecoming returns after years of pandemic ... Homecoming returns after years of pandemic impacts
8
NM to be part of 'clean freight corridor'
ABQnews Seeker
Hydrogen network could power trucks throughout ... Hydrogen network could power trucks throughout Southwest
9
Judge was a 'very generous and caring person'
ABQnews Seeker
Friends and colleagues describe Judge James ... Friends and colleagues describe Judge James A. Parker as a gentleman