Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Water Battles, Good Intentions and Mo’ Money


BernCo Commission Tackles Water to All

Bernalillo County folks have been working quietly doing the things that need to be done to keep our middle Rio Grande Valley home humming along. At their Oct. 27 meeting, the BernCo Commissioners moved several items across their desks.

Agua Por Vida

You would think clean drinking water is a given for Bernalillo County residents. But it is not—especially if you live in To’hajiilee, a small Native American community west of the Duke City.

To’hajiilee, a community of about 2,000, has been in a water crisis for years. Five of the six drinking wells have failed. Water from its last well pumping is undrinkable due to its corrosive and poor quality.

There are three property owners between the furthest-west water utility well and the holding tanks. One property owner has done the right thing and granted easement. Another is in promising negotiations with To'hajiilee. But the third, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, is being a jerk. Last week County Manager Julie Morgas Baca sent Jeff Garrett, the head dude for WAHL, a formal offer of $30,200 for the 7.19 acres needed to get safe water to To’hajiilee. She gave WALH until 5pm Oct. 23 to respond. As of press time it was unclear what WALH decided. If the holding company does not take the offer, then the county can consider condemning the land via eminent domain. Commissioners already gave the green light earlier this year to condemn the necessary land, if needed. Allowing people to have clean water seems to be a problem for WALH, as it has dug its heels in for years to not allow access across its holdings. So it seems the county has been a little too nice for a little too long. Costs for the pipeline are slated to be paid for by the Navajo Nation.

Good Eggs

Some fine feathered neighbors flapped up to take some spots on Bernalillo County boards and commissions. Those appointed in October include: Frank Chavez, Code of Conduct Board, Dist. 1; Martha Brown, alternate position Code of Conduct Board, Dist. 3; Anthony Fasulo to represent the HealthCare Field on the Youth Sports Commission; and if all went well at the Oct. 27 meeting Sara Crecca should have been appointed to the Arts Board, Dist. 4 and Peter St. Cyr to the DWI Planning Council, Dist. 1.

Some others were set to be appointed to the Sheriff’s Office Advisory and Review Board at the Oct. 27 meeting. Those include: Charles Knoblauch, Dist. 2, Tommy Jewell, Dist. 3, and Rebecca Stover, Dist. 5.


The commissioners approved a recurring item, the annual cost of living minimum wage increase. This time it went from $9.20 per hour to $9.35 per hour as per the county’s minimum wage ordinance. This goes into effect New Year’s Day 2021 and applies to those working within the county limits and outside the city limits. [ ]


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