County: DPU Eases Outdoor Watering Curtailment


Relaxed guidance on watering during the Set stage of evacuation preparedness will allow Los Alamos County property owners to irrigate fully again. The Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities (DPU) previously issued a request for businesses and residents within the county to refrain from outdoor watering due to the Cerro Pelado Fire. 

“We realize the county may be in the Set stage of Ready, Set, Go for a while,” said Utility Manager Philo Shelton. “With the winds slowing down some and less water evaporating into the air, we feel like this is a good time to turn our attention back to keeping our landscapes healthy.” 

Property owners are asked to follow the guidance of DPU’s Water Rule W-8, in which odd-numbered addresses water on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and even-numbered addresses water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This schedule helps to balance the demand for water use and thus keeps water pressure balanced as well. Watering should be done before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.

DPU initially requested that outdoor watering be put on hold during the Set stage because it negatively impacts pressure in the County’s water distribution system. Water tanker trucks are being used to truck water closer to firefighting efforts, however Shelton thinks the trucks can still be filled quickly enough even if irrigation is occurring. 

“We are going to reinstate the curtailment if and when the County moves to the Go stage of evacuation preparedness,” Shelton explained. “Sprinkler timers should be turned off at that time and we’re discouraging residents from letting their hoses and sprinklers run when they leave. We don’t want to diminish water pressure that might be needed for firefighting.” 

County Parks Division crews irrigate many of the county’s parks and fields using reclaimed water, which is distributed through a separate and much more geographically limited system than the potable water used by firefighters. As such, irrigation through the reclaimed water system does not affect water pressure for Los Alamos.

Water pressure for Los Alamos and White Rock are also being safeguarded through extra measures put in place by DPU in case wildfire should reach the areas. Mobile generators are temporarily set up to feed electricity to the Guaje well fields and Pajarito Well #4. This precautionary measure would allow water pumping to continue if power is disrupted. The usual electric load for Los Alamos County is about 18 MW. Water pumping alone equates to about 20% of that electric load.