Albuquerque did the Rio Abajo a very good turn — but we shouldn’t rest here.
It’s not often that we are truly grateful to our urban neighborhood to the north, but the City of Albuquerque did itself proud last week in sharing its water resources with the farmers in the rural areas downriver.
It agreeded to “lend” 70,000 acre feet of water to the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, to be repaid within the next 15 years. Surely the city has helped stem a possible crisis that could have devastated farms and ranches in the Rio Abajo.
Without this agreement, irrigation would have stopped on June 21 and our alfalfa fields and orchards would have slowly died of thirst. This would have devastating effects on our cattle and horse industries as well as our farms. Without alfalfa, livestock owners might not be able to afford the cost of purchasing hay from outside sources.
All in all, it would mean the slow siphoning away of agricultural pursuits in our valley. It would mean it would take immense efforts to bring it back — and some farmers might give up.
The situation is still quite serious. We need rain this summer, and we could use a winter snow season that would also make the skiing industry very, very happy. Since there’s not much we can do about it other than pray, we need to be thinking about the long run. What will we do if we run out of water? Do we run water pipelines from the midwest? Do we search for a way to dig deeper wells? The crisis still exists; we’ve just delayed the results a bit.
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