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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
  Eco-Beat

Residents ask area experts questions at LPA Water Series

Las Placitas Water Series flows along

— Cosmos Dohner

Our third program in Las Placitas Association’s 2011 Water Series looked at the abundance, location, and quality of water in the Placitas area between Interstate-25 and the Crest of Montezuma.

Guy Bralley, Sandoval County’s Water Resource Administrator, was invited to speak because of his thorough knowledge of various studies related to the availability and quality of water in Placitas, which the county had funded since 1996.

These studies are:

  • Phase 1 Groundwater Assessment for the Placitas Area, 1997
  • Geologically Complex Mountain Front Aquifers: Placitas, New Mexico, 1999
  • Update of Hydrogeologic Conditions at the Diamondtail Subdivision, Sandoval County, New Mexico, 2006
  • Historical and Current Water Use in the Placitas Area, Sandoval County, New Mexico, 2002
  • Hydrogeology and Water Resources of the Placitas Area, Sandoval County, New Mexico, 2008 (update of 2002)

Summaries of these reports done by Intera in 2008 have been placed by Bralley in the reference section our Placitas Community Library.

They also may be viewed online on the county website: www.sandovalcounty.com/uploadfiles/johnsontotal.pdf.

Dr. William (Bill) Turner, CEO of Water Bank and the groundwater exploration, development, and management firm AGW Consultants in Albuquerque was also invited to speak because of his own work in our area. Turner delved into the report that is last on the list above, widely known as the Peggy Johnson study after its principal author. It is considered to be the most comprehensive, careful evaluation of the water situation in Placitas. She documented the complex geologic structures underlying this region that make it difficult to generalize from one water source location (well or spring) to another. Turner pointed out that faulting and fracturing in sub-surface geology resulted in many different aquifers. Maps in Johnson’s report detail the presence of these aquifers and the quality of their waters, including the presence of chemicals such as arsenic.

Turner pointed out the importance of long-term monitoring of surface levels in water wells and springs in greater Placitas in order to record fluctuations over several years and the relationship between use and precipitation.

A map showing locations of 23 Placitas wells that were monitored during 2008-10 was displayed. It had been prepared especially for our Water Series by Dave Lutz, HydroTechnician, U.S. Geological Survey-New Mexico Water Science Center, who conducted the monitoring under USGS-Sandoval County contracts  for which Sandoval County paid $25,000/year. In addition, he cited these websites for much more information about well monitoring in New Mexico: Groundwater levels for New Mexico—www.nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/nm/nwis/gwlevels and New Mexico Active Water Level Network, www.groundwaterwatch.usgs.gov/statemaps/NM.html

The county stopped funding the study in 2010.  Lutz encouraged Placitas residents to petition county commissioners to re-fund the monitoring and expand it to include more wells in other locations in Sandoval County in order to bring down the cost per well. (District One Commissioner Orlando Lucero can be reached at 934-3392 or at ojlucero@aol.com.)

The program broke into lively one-on-one discussions with Turner and Bralley. Of note was an offer by Bralley to help our Las Acequias de Las Placitas water association seek funding for improving the Village water system.

Trish Bolton of Placitas and Sidney Hill, Sandoval County Public Information Officer, contributed to this article.


Placitas Recycling center looks for volunteers

—Robin Brandin

The Placitas Recycling Center is a popular place on Saturday mornings. On average, the center is visited by about 160 cars during the three-hour Saturday collection times and over two hundred cars on peak days. That’s nearly a car a minute. Each Saturday, all that traffic is typically handled by a team of six volunteers who help visitors offload, separate, and deposit their recyclables in appropriate containers.

Most residents know that the Placitas Recycling Center is an all-volunteer operation. Without the volunteers, the center could not operate. As the volume of traffic shows, the center is providing a valuable service to the Placitas community. But not just the local community, the Placitas Recycling Center recycles approximately 120 tons of material annually—material that does not end up in a landfill. That equates to about two and a half tons per week.

Fortunately, the Placitas Recycling Association (PRA) can count on an exceptional group of volunteers to keep the center going. But as people leave the area or are forced to stop volunteering for health or other reasons, new volunteers are needed to keep a robust cadre. The PRA is dedicated to keeping the volunteer experience a positive one and avoiding overloading people. “We don’t want a few people carrying the load for the whole community,” notes PRA President Chris DiGregory. “The Placitas Recycling Center is a community resource, and we’re seeking broad-based community participation. The goal is to maintain a sufficiently large cadre of volunteers to be able to schedule a full team every Saturday, while limiting each person’s commitment to only a few times a year, as well as to accommodate volunteers’ personal schedules.”

The PRA is currently experiencing a dip in the number of volunteers and needs more participation from Placitas residents.  Most volunteers work a three-hour shift at the recycling center during collection times on Saturday mornings. There are also weekday activities that volunteers can assist, including bailing plastic and helping transport recycled materials to buyers in Albuquerque. Volunteers typically work two to three times a year. For more information on volunteer opportunities and activities contact Chris DiGregory at 867-4494.

Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at the recycling center on Saturday mornings or call Max Pruneda at 877-7745.

The Placitas Recycling Center is located on Highway 165 about a quarter mile east of the I-25 interchange. It accepts cardboard, white and pastel office paper, newspaper, mixed paper (including junk mail, magazines, and catalogs), No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, aluminum, polystyrene peanuts, printer ink cartridges, and rechargeable batteries. Collection times are Saturday mornings from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m., except on posted holidays.  For more information, visit www.placitasrecycling.com.

As a reminder, the Placitas Recycling Center will be closed November 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
   

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