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Tijeras Surviving on One Water Well

Experts say the monsoon season is here, but that isn’t helping the village of Tijeras too much.

Besides the drought conditions, Tijeras is down to only one well.

According to Mayor Gloria Chavez, when work crews were boring across south N.M. 14 last weekend, they hit a water line.

“When they hit the water line, we turned off our well. When they went to turn it back on, it was not pumping to capacity,” Chavez explained at the regular Village Council meeting on Monday.


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Now the village is relying solely on well No. 2.

“It is sustaining us for now,” Chavez said. “We are trying our best to get (well No. 1) going.”

The plan to fix well No. 1 is to reinstall the pump deeper in the well.

“Additionally,” said Louise B. Marquez, village clerk/treasurer, “we will be adding a diaphragm valve that will be used to reduce the amount of water that the pump pumps from 80 gallons per minute to 55 gallons per minute. This will allow the well more time to ‘catch up’ with the pumping and won’t draw it down so quickly.”

The Town Council had already enacted mandatory water restrictions on July 1 because of the drought conditions and concerns about the wells.

One restriction, saying that water cannot be sold for profit, is affecting Turquoise Trail Electric and Water, its employees, and, according to owner Rick Howe, “thousands” of customers.

Howe takes Tijeras water and runs it through a process that filters and softens it, after which it is sold for drinking water. Howe said that many East Mountains residents have well water that they can’t drink because it is unhealthy, and his business provides a public service.

According to Howe, the business is allowed 33,600 gallons of water per month, but his company typically uses about 7,000 gallons per month.


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“I would understand (the restrictions) if we were going over,” Howe said.

Howe said his customers are very upset.

“We are their primary water source,” he said.

Since the restrictions have been enacted, Howe has been hauling water in from Cedar Crest, which he will have to continue to do if the restriction isn’t lifted. This would cause his prices to rise.

Although Howe said it “affects a lot of us,” he also said he “wants to work with the village. We are aware of the extreme conditions and are willing to help any way we can.”

At the Monday meeting, the Village Council and mayor discussed the matter of prohibiting Turquoise Trail Electric and Water from selling water.

At the meeting, Chavez said that she and the councilors “cannot see selling water when our people don’t have water. Depending on one well is really drawing down water. There is no water. When Mr. Howe’s application was approved … we told him that if we started to have issues with water that (selling water) would be cut first.”

Howe had requested the council reconsider the water restrictions, but councilors tabled the issue until their Monday meeting, so that the mayor and councilors could review the problem.

“This is major and we need to review numbers — this is a very important issue, “ Chavez said.