Steel pumps and filter towers may soon rise from the Chihuahuan Desert in southern New Mexico — and that has a small agricultural community seriously concerned.
growing city of Alamogordo wants to draw water from deep within the
Tularosa Basin aquifer. But that water is salty. To make it
drinkable, the city plans to process it through a $30 million
reverse osmosis desalination facility. Last December, the state
engineer’s office, which administers New Mexico’s water
resources, gave Alamogordo permission to drill 10 wells and take
3,000 acre-feet of water per year from the aquifer.
the nearby village of Tularosa, that decision has farmers and
ranchers worried that their own wells may run dry. According to Dan
Abercrombie of the Tularosa Community Ditch Corporation, the state
engineer’s office overestimated the amount of water the city
could take before seriously impacting the aquifer. Tularosa
residents are also concerned that if the desalination project
succeeds, Alamogordo may take even more water in the future.
"It’s wrong for one community to go around another
to develop its water supply," Abercrombie says, "instead of going
where it wouldn’t harm others."
ranchers and the community ditch corporation are appealing the
permit in state court. A decision is expected early next year.