For­get your wa­ter, we want your money

The Taos News - - LOCAL NEWS -

The town of Taos has agreed to pony up $57,600 to the El Prado Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Dis­trict for help dur­ing a month­long wa­ter cri­sis ear­lier this year. Town coun­cilors voted to pay the El Prado wa­ter dis­trict dur­ing the Oct. 9 coun­cil meet­ing.

Taos’ wa­ter emer­gency be­gan April 19. Ag­ing pumps in two of the town’s three ma­jor mu­nic­i­pal wells went down, and the town coun­cil quickly voted to de­clare a state of emer­gency. In or­der to keep the wa­ter lines pres­sur­ized — avert­ing a full-blown wa­ter out­age that could have crip­pled the town, busi­nesses and res­i­dents — the El Prado dis­trict be­gan send­ing wa­ter from their sys­tem into that of the town.

At the time of the emer­gency, El Prado op­er­a­tors es­ti­mated they sent roughly 400,000 gal­lons to the town each day. Months later, they es­ti­mated El Prado’s sys­tem sent the town 11.5 mil­lion gal­lons of wa­ter. In the months since the emer­gency, it was un­clear if El Prado would ac­cept wa­ter, rather than a mon­e­tary pay­ment. Ul­ti­mately, they opted for the cash.

“The (El Prado) board felt that there were too many ob­sta­cles and sub­se­quent prob­lems in a wa­ter-for-wa­ter re­pay­ment,” read an Oct. 3 let­ter from the dis­trict to town man­ager Rick Bel­lis. “The board unan­i­mously de­cided to de­cline the (sug­gested) MOU and re­quest pay­ment from the town.” The board gave the town un­til Nov. 3 to pay up, at which point “in­ter­est will be added to the in­voice bal­ance…as is our nor­mal pro­ce­dure.”

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