Work begins on new aquifer recharge wells to store water

Morgan Aguilar
August 17, 2017 06:59 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Thursday morning, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority cut the ribbon on a project that will help store more drinking water: the first-ever aquifer recharge injection wells to be drilled in Albuquerque.


Running out of water is always a concern living in the desert. Researchers spend hours monitoring snow pack and river levels to make sure everyone has enough water in our homes.

"We get about 8 inches of rainfall each year, said Katherine Yuhas, water resources division manager at the authority. "And the more that we're able to conserve, the longer our water supply is going to last."

Surplus surface water will be stored in the underground aquifer via the injection wells for later recovery and use. 

"Once it's treated to drinking water standards, we're going to be injecting it underground to store it in the aquifer," Yuhas said.

Metro area residents can't always rely on the water coming from the Rio Grande. Some years there will simply be less rain and less snow to come down off the mountains. Yuhas said the water authority has gotten good at conserving what little surface water there is.

"We are the best water conservation program in the west," Yuhas said. "I mean we are widely recognized that way."

Crews have already started drilling the two injection wells at the San-Juan Chama Drinking Water Plant.

The two wells are different sizes. One goes down 130 feet, while the one right across the street goes down 1,200 feet. The entire project is expected to cost about $6 million, but will not require ABCWUA to raise water rates for customers.

"We actually got some grant money from the state of New Mexico to test these out," Yuhas said.

The wells are expected to be complete by the end of 2017. The first water injection will be during the winter of 2018-19. 


Morgan Aguilar

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