Monday, January 15, 2007


By ASSOCIATED PRESSJanuary 15, 2007 ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority is trying to recharge the aquifer beneath Albuquerque.The small research project will examine how the area can take advantage of extra water that can be saved for the future.The $985,000 project, the first of its kind in New Mexico, will divert water from the Rio Grande in the heart of the city into an arroyo, where it will seep into the ground.The study will begin this fall and will use about 1,000 acre-feet of river water. An acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons, can meet the annual water needs of one to two U.S. households.The project will determine how long it takes the water to reach the aquifer and how much of it gets there, said John Stomp, manager of the city-county water utility.The idea of storing some water in the aquifer is part of the utility's long-range plan."Aquifer storage and recovery is going to be a big benefit to the state of New Mexico," Stomp said.Storing some water underground also would allow the utility to reduce the evaporation seen by regular reservoirs, he said.The utility already diverts some water for parks and other sites. The research project will release river water stored in a tank in north Albuquerque into an arroyo, where it will flow for half a mile or so, then dry up. The flow will be less than a foot deep.Some water _ 5 percent to 10 percent _ will evaporate as it flows, but the rest should seep into the ground.The researchers will use monitoring wells and other sensors to track the water underground. Officials believe gravity should pull it 300 to 500 feet below the surface, where it will meet the water table in the aquifer.Officials also believe the underground rocks should help filter the water, improving its quality naturally.Eventually, the city wants to take river water, already purified to drinking water standards, and inject it straight into the aquifer through wells.The research project requires state approval. Utility officials are meeting with the state engineer and the state Environment Department.___
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