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Impending drought prompts state engineer to encourage active water conservation

Forecasts that predict New Mexico may experience an extreme drought this year have state engineer John D’Antonio urging New Mexicans to actively conserve water and reduce their use.

“New Mexico has received minimal precipitation this winter, and forecasts indicate that severe drought conditions appear likely this spring,” said state engineer John D’Antonio. “The Office of the State Engineer is taking a proactive approach towards managing the state’s limited water resources during drought cycles by implementing the Active Water Resource Management Initiative, but we need the public to be part of the solution as well.”

To help New Mexicans begin their conservation efforts, the Office of the State Engineer’s Water Use and Conservation Bureau has compiled a list of low-to-no-cost suggestions for reducing indoor and outdoor water use.

• Check to see if there are any local watering restrictions and remember to adjust your irrigation timers. This not only reduces water use, but may also prevent a potential fine.
• When faced with water restrictions, concentrate on watering trees, then shrubs and perennials.
• Water your lawn and plants with a hose or a watering can when possible. This reduces water use by one-third compared to automatic sprinklers. Be sure all hoses have automatic shutoff nozzles.
• Maintain your outdoor irrigation system. Fix any leaks and connections in hoses, drip lines, emitters, and sprinkler heads. Replace the back-up battery on your irrigation timer.
• If there are any local restrictions on car washing, use commercial car washes that recycle their water.
• When washing your car at home, be sure to always use a bucket and a hose with an automatic shutoff nozzle to minimize the water used.

• Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when full.
• Don’t prerinse your dishes—Consumer Reports testing found prerinsing does not improve cleaning.
• Keep showers short. If your fixture is old (pre-1994), consider installing a low-flow showerhead.
• Check toilets for silent leaks. This is easily done by doing the following: 1) Add six drops of food coloring to the tank; 2) Do not flush; 3) Wait fifteen minutes; 4) Check to see if the food color has leaked from the tank into the bowl.
If the food coloring leaks into the bowl, check to see if there is debris in the flapper mechanism or if the mechanism is worn out. If the mechanism is worn out, it needs to be replaced. Be sure the replacement is a low-flow mechanism, as some flappers increase the gallons per flush.

“Hot, dry, and windy weather, much like we have recently experienced, can increase outdoor residential-water use significantly,” said Water Use and Conservation Bureau chief John Longworth. “By using common sense and following through with these simple water conservation tips, this increased water use can be greatly reduced.”

For more information or to order conservation brochures, please contact the Office of the State Engineer’s Water Use and Conservation Bureau, at 1-800-WATERNM or For a complete listing of brochures, visit the agency’s Web site,

The Office of the State Engineer is charged with administering the state’s water resources. The state engineer has power over the supervision, measurement, appropriation, and distribution of all surface and groundwater in New Mexico, including streams and rivers that cross state boundaries. The state engineer is also secretary of the Interstate Stream Commission and oversees its staff.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Grupo de Danza Folklór-ica Makawi

The National Hispanic Cultural Center, in partnership with STEPS Dance Academy, is proud to present Grupo de Danza Folklórica Makawi on Friday, May 5, at 8:00 p.m., in the NHCC’s Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts, in Albuquerque. Tickets are $10, with a discount for students, seniors, and NHCC members. (For tickets, call 724-4471).

This music and dance presentation will commemorate the Cinco de Mayo holiday celebrated throughout the United States and Mexico. The folkloric dance group Makawi was founded in 1988 in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, and is recognized today as one of Mexico’s most distinguished folkloric groups. The group comprises approximately sixty-five dancers, and their repertoire includes dances from states throughout the Mexican republic, allowing them to present programs showcasing a broad spectrum of traditional Mexican customs and cultures.

The NHCC and STEPS Dance Academy will also be presenting a student concert on Friday, May 5, at 1:00 p.m. with Makawi. The cost is $5 per student, with teachers admitted free. To sign up for the student concert, call STEPS Dance Academy, at 766-5449.

Heard around the West


What a surprise for two off-roaders in the California Desert, who ventured farther off-road than was good for them. Driving a Suzuki Samurai in a restricted area managed by the Bureau of Land Management, they blasted over a ridge and plunged 30 feet straight down an abandoned mineshaft. "I can still hear that scraping as we were going down," said Gary Mertle, 62, of Sebastopol, Calif. Mertle broke his arm, reports the Yuma Sun, and his friend, Umberto Cheli, 67, of Santa Rosa, suffered a scraped head. The two spent an uncomfortable 20 hours at the bottom of the shaft before they were rescued. During the night, Cheli said that "some sort of animal" near the top of the shaft knocked rocks in on them. It took a crane to remove the vehicle, and you can see photos of its extraction on the Bureau of Land Management’s site for California, headlined: "Stay on Designated Routes," at

A boom in the market price for steel and aluminum is sending the price of scrap metal sky-high all over the world. It’s also sparked a destructive streak in thieves, who have begun making off with light poles, manhole covers, plumbing supplies from building sites, aluminum luggage carts, and in Oregon recently, parts of a bridge. The Wall Street Journal reports that in the Willamette National Forest, two men and a woman donned orange vests to look like workers, put out traffic cones and then calmly cut away a bridge’s steel crossbeams and handrails. Before they were nabbed, the trio stripped two other bridges, says the Bureau of Land Management, trucking some 3 1/2 tons of steel to a scrap yard outside Salem, the state capital. And what’s another growing target of metals thieves? Beer kegs.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado (





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