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Albuquerque meets water conservation goal early

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque water users consumed 149.55 gallons per person per day, according to a report filed earlier this month with the state.

The numbers here are complicated by new census population estimates, which show population rising more than the Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority had realized in calculations in recent years. But by any measure, the new numbers show the water utility has met a goal set by the Office of State Engineer far earlier than expected.

Under the utility’s permit to divert imported San Juan River Basin water from the Rio Grande, Albuquerque had been required to hit a target of 155 gallons per person per day by 2024.

“We’re doing really well,” said Bruce Thomson, head of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program. But Thomson and others cautioned that there is still room for further improvement in our water-scarce region. “There’s a lot more to go.”

A goal of 125 gallons per person per day or even less is clearly achievable, said former New Mexico state engineer Tom Turney. (updated after a clarifying conversation with Turney)

I’ll have more in tomorrow’s newspaper.