Updated: Wednesday, 20 Jul 2011, 10:30 PM MDT
Published : Wednesday, 20 Jul 2011, 10:30 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - It's no secret New Mexico is in the middle of a drought in more ways than one. We lack water and money, and every little bit counts. But News 13 found out Albuquerque seems to be wasting both.
Video from the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Authority shows water gushing into the streets and broken sprinkler heads spraying out of control.
We've all heard the warnings, waste water and get fined. And you're racking up hefty fines thanks to the city.
“We have a resource in water that we need to take care of in the city of Albuquerque,” Mayor R.J. Berry said.
So how much water is the city wasting?
News 13 asked for a breakdown of city properties that have been fined by the water authority in the last year. The city's violations take up five pages, and the fines add up to more than $21,000.
“I will never say that 21 thousand dollars is a drop in the bucket,” said Berry. “Nor will I ever say that a gallon of water wasted is a good thing.”
The city's Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for all violations that make up the $21,000 price tag.
The two areas on the list that waste the most water are the medians on Louisiana between Montgomery and Osuna, and the medians on Ridgecrest.
Those two irrigation systems alone cost the city more than $12,000 in fines over the last year. Albuquerque Parks and Recreation director Barbara Baca is in charge of those medians. She admits they will probably rack up more fines in the future.
“The reason we have water that is going off the grass is because they are old,” said Baca.
While Baca said she doesn't take the fines lightly, “I think we are doing pretty well.”
She said Parks and Recreation spends $500,000 a year improving the city's irrigation systems and replacing old lines. But, she said the system will never be perfect.
“The placement of the heads, if they are against the curb, even if you get a 2 mph wind it's going to blow the water into the street,” said Baca. “So you will always have this give and take when you landscape in public places.”
The Water Authority's David Morris said a lot of water is lost every year to waste.
“It would be in the thousands and thousands of gallons,” said Morris.
He said water fines start at just $20 but can go all the way up to two grand apop if the violation isn't fixed.
That's what has happened with the Louisiana and Ridgecrest areas. Any more violations for those medians will automatically cost $2,000 each. The price won't go down until the city can go five years without a problem there.
“We need to be conscious of how we are using our water, and when everyone is trying so hard to save it, does it really make sense to let it just run down the street and into the gutter?” said Morris.
But Baca said she can't promise that Louisiana or Ridgecrest will be fixed any time soon.
“I don't have a schedule of when renovation will be complete,” she said.
The mayor said he's met with Baca to make sure the areas costing you the most money are in line for improvements.
“We have limited resources and a lot of need and we need to make sure we are taking those resources and putting those in the right place too,” said Berry.
The city isn't the only one racking up fines with the Water Authority. The Federal Courthouse in Albuquerque was fined three times in June. A spokesperson said the problem has been fixed.
Albuquerque Public Schools also showed up on the list. The district spent just over two thousand dollars in fines over a year. An APS spokesperson said most fines were a result of vandalism to sprinkler heads.