U.S. Water News Online
LAS VEGAS, N.M. -- Las Vegas city councilors have approved
a resolution restricting water for development projects --
essentially freezing new development in the northern New Mexico
Without relief, Las Vegas will be out of water by September, City
Attorney Matt Sandoval said.
"The obligation of the city is to provide water to its current
customers," he told the council before the 6-1 vote. "We're talking
about emergency measures."
Las Vegas has 128 days of water left, utilities director Richard
The city can no longer depend on the Gallinas River and must find
other sources of water, he said. He wants to drill a new well,
rehabilitate two others and buy water from a rancher north of Las
Vegas who is willing to sell.
The resolution, considered temporary, prohibits zoning changes,
variances, special use permits or plat approvals and building permit
zoning clearances that require water or increased consumption. It
contains a provision to request an exemption.
The council gave City Manager John Avila responsibility for
administering the plan.
Councilman Louie Trujillo expressed concern about developments
already in the pipeline.
"There are people who have already secured funding, are ready to
build, and have to start paying that loan and we have to tell them,
'Sorry, but you can't do business,"' he said.
The utilities director responded, "We are in an emergency. We
don't have the water today to meet the needs of present water users.
That's what we have to come to grips with.
"I could lie to you and say, 'Bring them in, let's build.' That's
why we have to continue looking at this whole issue, and I'm glad we
have a water board. I'm glad the mayor and council have made water a
priority because, without coming to grips with that, we have a
problem. It will never be solved."
Avila said the resolution affords the city a little more
"If there wasn't an emergency we wouldn't have to make these
decisions," he said. "We could say we reject that responsibility and
say, 'Come in and build, use all the water you want.' And when they
turn on the tap there won't be any water."
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