Water supply still a concern

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In light of the water crisis that plagued the Village of Magdalena for up to five months last year, Mayor Diego Montoya proposed an ordinance to limit residents' water usage at Monday night's meeting of the Village Board of Trustees.

The restrictions Montoya proposed drew comments and questions from trustees as well as village residents in attendance.

"The restrictions I would like to see are watering before noon and after six, twice a week," Montoya said. "Another plan would be to limit watering to twice a week in April and May, three times a week in June, July and August, and twice a week again in September and October."

Trustee Barbara Baca asked if a watering schedule alternating odd and even numbered street addresses could be implemented. Montoya said that could also be considered.

Resident Ted Bending said raising the water rates could force residents to use less water.

"The Albuquerque Bernalillo water company has had a great savings. They got better conservation from customers, so they raised the rates," Bending said. "Water is just like blood, it can get sucked."

Trustee Richard Rumpf said people question him about the guidelines, and whether or not they will regulate filling kids' pools.

Montoya responded that the wording of the ordinance may need to be worked on; his main concern, he said, is with "water being wasted, especially when you see it running down the street (from over watering)."

Other audience concerns included watering trees and gardens, as well as livestock. Montoya said everything would be considered before the ordinance is finalized.

Resident and former Village Board Trustee Bill Fuller objected to the adoption of an "unenforceable ordinance."

"As a practical matter, I have a thing about passing unenforceable ordinances. It produces contempt for issues that are enforceable and need to be enforced," Fuller said.

Trustee Tom Barrington suggested passing a set of guidelines, rather than an actual ordinance.

"Guidelines are neither here nor there, people can ignore those," Fuller said. "As a practical matter, I think you need to take a realistic assessment of what you can pump, look at what you're using and be a little flexible with where you apply the guidelines."

He suggested passing an enabling ordinance, which he said would allow the village to quickly change the water allocations.

"But I really do have a thing about passing unenforceable regulations," Fuller said. "A clear example was the ban on doing laundry at home passed last year."

Montoya suggested residents could form a neighborhood watch.

"We could have something in there about washing a vehicle. (For) things that are done outdoors, report it," he said.

Montoya said nothing has been finalized yet, but that the ultimate goal is better conservation.

In the end, Trustee Baca made a motion to table the issue to allow for further study and discussion. The board unanimously approved the motion.

In other action:

• Montoya proposed the reinstatement of the Magdalena Water Board, which former Mayor Sandy Julian disbanded in January.

The Water Board would consist of the same 13 members; however, in an email to El Defensor Chieftain, member Gail Miller stated that the group preferred the original name: the Magdalena Water Team.

The group's next meeting will be at 10 a.m. April in the Magdalena Schools' library.

• Mike Chambers, Magdalena Schools superintendent proposed a Memorandum of Understanding with the village that would allow a joining of the schools' well to the municipal water system.

Chambers said a two-valve hookup could be installed which would allow either entity to share water with one another, if need be. He said the well on the schools' grounds was originally permitted for garden watering only, but that it is capable of supplying all the schools' water needs, and more after the schools get permitted for consumer usage and the design is approved by the Office of the State Engineer.

In addition, the MOU would allow the schools' well to supplement the municipal system in the event of another water crisis. The board agreed and Montoya said he would have the MOU prepared.