Developing a Sustainable Wate Supply in the American West: The Case of Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Natural Resources and Conservation
Natural Resources Management and Policy
Water Resource Management
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AbstractSuburban and urban communities in the American West are challenged by rapid population growth combined with limited natural resources. Supporting sustainable development is of great concern in this region and in similar regions throughout the world. This research examines the sustainability of the water supply within a rapidly growing suburban city in the American West. The city, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, began as an interstate land sales operation and rapidly became a “boom” town, in part because of its location near metropolitan Albuquerque. Because of a very limited water supply and an increasing demand for water associated with population growth, Rio Rancho has created a water management strategy that includes water conservation, water reuse, aquifer recharge, and other water saving techniques, as well as education and community outreach concerning water issues. Initial conservation and management strategies have been successful in reducing system-wide per capita water usage by roughly 39% between 2000 and 2015. This decrease occurred in spite of a substantial increase in population. This paper outlines how current and future efforts can help to achieve water supply sustainability while promoting suburban development, even in an arid environment.