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Water and Growth

The County must grow in a sensible and sensitive way. Growth in the County is much greater than growth in the City, and in many ways more complex. How the County deals with  growth and water over the next 10 years will set the  standard of living for your (and my) grandchildren.

The County has done a good job of top level planning in both the 40 Year Water Plan (2002) and the Growth Management Plan (1999). However, in the day to day operation of dealing with the demands of growth and water, the county has done a poor job implementing their own recommendations.

Please take the time to read the entire page - this is the most important issue facing the County.

1) No growth without proven, wet water.

2) Water use not to exceed .25 acre feet per lot/dwelling (this is an un-enforced County recommendation now)

3) Density & water credits for affordable housing and small business.

4) No approvals based on Chama Diversion water until construction started on the Diversion.

5) Landscaping and outdoor use of potable water severely limited - cisterns and grey water use expanded.

6) County and City take strong, real action toward a regional water system.

7) Consistent water use rules between the County and City.

8) Encourage small green public parks and children play fields.

9) Implement as ordinances the recommendations of the Growth Management Plan.

10) Much greater public information and debate about County water commitments and planning.

11) Strong cooperation with the City on the creation of a Regional Water System.

1) The County (and the City) are really betting on the Chama Diversion project to bring surface water from Colorado down the Chama river to the Rio Grande and Buckman, where it would be collected and piped to the County and City.

Sounds great, but it was supposed to be running by 2000 (According to the County 1980 Growth Plan). Then 2006, now 2008! The cost is estimated to be about 100 million dollars. Since there is not a lot of County pipe in the ground, it will mostly benefit new construction.  According to the State Engineer's Office, New Mexico (much less Santa Fe), often does not get it's full allotment of this water.

The Chama diversion is a good idea. Lets debate funding and usage, but lets not count on it or commit water until construction has started!

2) The County Commission need vigorous public debate about water usage and policy. Recently State legislation was introduce and almost passed creating a County Wide Water Board, excluding the city. This may be a good idea, but there was no (public) debate by the County Commission or by citizens. This is not a good way to set long term critical public policy.

3) The County has a well written Growth Plan, "adopted" by the County Commission. Yet, very few ordinance reflecting the plan have been written to enforce what is now only recommendations. The County continues to approve significant projects that are contrary to this plan. It is time to follow the plan!

4) It is critical that the County and the city work together on a comprehensive regional water plan and system. First, because we all drink from the same aquifers. Second, most growth is occurring in the 'extra territorial zone', near but not within the city. Finally, if we can not solve our problems locally, then the State or Fed will impose requirements on both the city and the county.

For more detail on water and growth, please read the following files:
Sierra Club Questionnaire (water, growth, open trails, etc.)

AFSCME Questionnaire (water, growth, economics, living wage, etc.)

Thanks for reading some of my thoughts. There are many important issues facing us, but none more critical than Water and Growth. I pledge honest, hard work on this vital issue!

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