Thursday, June 06, 2013

Breaking News

Magdalena has gone national and may be on your evening news, but for an infuriating reason: our little town has just lost all its water in a well collapse, and though ranches with their own wells are all right, there is no water available for our village-- around a thousand residents-- and therefore none in a  60 mile stretch of Route 60 between Socorro and Datil. Of course ranchers still have wells (though the drought has lowered levels in many) but driving 12 miles on rough roads to take a shower is not an attractive option.

Our crisis may symbolize the emerging conditions in the New West. Everybody concerned kicked the problem down the road. The state dragged its collective feet on the necessary permits, then piled on rather than helping. State inspectors actually came in and tried to shut down all our businesses and the gas stations because they had no potable water. Bar owner Darrell Pettis and Bob Winston of Winston's garage resisted, and so far everything is open. Darrell and filmmaker Matt Middleton got a few minutes on Albuquerque TV explaining the difficulty of life here and the political indifference of the state to the fate of tiny old remote towns. Do the idiots sent to inspect us and shut down our only social links and sources for food and drink realize what stress that would add to an already angry populace?

This is just a rushed beginning for what will doubtless be continuing coverage of the crisis. Estimates of the time needed to fix the well range from a couple of days to a MONTH. And yes, there are important connections to our ongoing water hijacking crisis-- hit the search box with the words"water" or Plains of San Augustin, or go to the site for the Golden Spur for more news...

UPDATE: For now at least, a video from KOB TV here, featuring Marshall Larry Cearley, filmmaker and water activist Matt Middleton, and Spur owner Darrell Pettis, all of whom have been working on the problem.

20 comments:

Matt Mullenix said...

Holy cow, Steve. It's like end times! Will you need to move in the near term?

Anonymous said...

It's tough when we're forcibly reminded that water doesn't just spring from a spigot. What a mess. And the let's-shut-the-town-down mentality just shows how out of touch govt. agencies can be.

And, as they say, whiskey's for drinking; water's for fighting over."

Jim Cornelius
www.frontierpartisans.com

John Olsen said...

Ugh! We had no electricity for two weeks, and huge lines for gas for days after Hurricane Sandy here in New Jersey. Without gas, people could not run generators or drive to work. It got very interesting very fast. I can't imagine what would have happened if the water ran out. Good luck.

John Olsen said...

Ugh! We had no electricity for two weeks, and huge lines for gas for days after Hurricane Sandy here in New Jersey. Without gas, people could not run generators or drive to work. It got very interesting very fast. I can't imagine what would have happened if the water ran out. Good luck.

Steve Bodio said...

I would not give give them-- no paranoid fantasy about "them", just the current stupidities and their incarnations ("Modern times, mon..." ?-- the satisfaction.

We can hold out indefinitely as long as they leave us the Spur and Bobby's.

Comfort is another question... It is no fun at all.

BorderWars said...

As a Colorado native I've watched the last two administrations using politicians with Colorado roots, Gale Norton (R) and Ken Salazar (D), both sell our rights and our water down the river to California and Vegas interests.

It's pathetic that those interests have prevented us for DECADES from keeping and using our own water, and the deals that are struck are so backwards that should nature not provide enough water to flow down the Colorado River, the State of Colorado owes NV and CA money.

While I can't claim to have suffered anything on the scale of your current predicament, I've watched our local water board raise rates and raise rates and then demand people cut back, and when they do, they raise rates again because people cut back so much.

For most, water is life, but for these Pols, it's money. And money apparently beats out life when you're in power.

My sympathies.

Old Gunkie in Wyoming said...

Oh Steve - so sorry to hear this bad news. Who should we (you readers) be sending email to. This should be a top priority at the state level and an email campaign couldn't hurt.


Anonymous said...

I sympathize. Years ago, I lived without running water for two years...in a large city in Nigeria. It was tough, but we managed as did the myriad small businesses up and down the street. Lived the 'jerry can' lifestyle. Wouldn't expect it to have happened this side of the pond, however.

Moro Rogers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moro Rogers said...

@_@ Crap! Hope things get better soon...

Jess said...

Anonymous-

I live in the US in a remote area and we haul our water. In fact, the closest small town does not do water hookups to the town well any more and many of the residents there haul water from the water utility. This is not unusual at all in small town desert areas in the US. It is not a big deal or even all that inconvenient to not have a well or city hookup, as long you have access to water.

Unlike Steve we are in pretty close proximity to a major city so water *supply* is not an issue. That state stuff is just fucked up, Steve. Falls under "last thing you need right now..."

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you all in your predicament .

Just as well the Realtors did not get their development permits several years ago.....

Water is the next big World Environmental issue,you are right to fight hard for Local control of this vital resource.

Maybe this crisis will be the catalyst for action Magdalena needs....I sure hope so, and wish you all well for a quick return to normality of supplies.

JohnnyUK

Steve Bodio said...

Thanks all. Jim, right now we are doing all that can be done I think. Jess , who lives in a similar but hotter and even dryer environment, knows the score. There are many who live like she does; what screws you up is having to deal with unplanned disasters that happen because of stupidity! If the idiots had not blocked our new well; if they hadn't stood in our way; if we had done what we wanted to; we would not be having such a problem.

The reason we are irritated rather than sad is that we cope well with disaster here if left to ourselves. I have had more power breakdowns and such here than most people in the civilized world can imagine-- we just power up the wood stove and light candles. But when the state won't let us dig a well--!!!

And their desire to "protect" us by shutting down all our businesses is flat- out insane.

Mark Farrell-Churchill said...

Damn. (Pr. "Dayum".)

"I would not give give them...the satisfaction." Good on ya, Steve. Best of luck to you & Libby, not to mention all your neighbours.

Anonymous said...

My well pump went out last year--took about a week to get it fixed--man! Makes you preeshee-ate modern convienances! I got several 5 gallon buckets with lids and hauled water for me and the critters for the duration--got the water at work, and took showers there. VERY GLAD when the well pump got fixed! Danged expensive though.....So, here's hoping your much more serious situation gets fixed soon! Anyone there set up desert water relays yet? Seems like a camel caravan could come in handy for that......L. B.

Dennis said...

It's that Magdalena fault shifting around. Get ready for the big one. Datil may be a Pacific seaport soon.
Good luck.

Anne @zooinacan said...

Awful stuff, and I would not be surprised to hear this happening to other small, rural and semi-remote western towns. Since you folks anticipated this, and were denied permission to fix it in advance, it must be infuriating. Close down Magdalena? There are towns and cities where that is an intriguing idea, but Mag is a light user of the region's resources. Where I'm at now there are irrigators spraying water over the asphalt roads all day and night, and it's supposedly a high desert climate. Makes me crazy.

Anonymous said...

....and come to think of it, SELLING WATER(by the bottle, bucket, barrel, or tankful) might be an up and coming quite lucrative biddness in the American Southwest.......instead of Carpetbaggers, you fellers may have to deal with Waterbottlers!....L.B.

Chas Clifton said...

. . . women, minorities hardest hit.

guy boyd said...

Steve, Sounds like you are dealing with a frustrating and difficult problem. Your mention of the New West reminded me of the Sage Brush rebellion which occurred in the 60s and 70s. The Western states were rebelling against land use and natural resource policies developed by the East Coast intelligentsia. Currently dissatisfied rural factions in the northeastern part of Colorado are discussing the possibility of forming a separate state because of their dissatisfaction with policies developed by Front Range cities, especially Denver and Boulder regarding water, energy development and gun control.

Like your Magdalena problem, the later is an urban/rural issue rather than an East/West issue. However the underlying problem is the same--development of rules and regulations by policy makers who are ignorant of their application in rural areas.

So my two cents worth is that the inspectors that came to Magdalena may well have known the problem they were causing but did not have the discretion to alter their procedures to meet your needs. In other words, the rules they were applying may have been appropriate in other conditions. Have you discussed your problem with your elected representatives who can change the regulations to fit your needs? Good Luck. Guy