Jaw-Dropping Water Savings at ABQ Sunport

May 11, 2022

ALBUQUERQUE — The stunning landscape greeting visitors and locals at the Albuquerque International Sunport is now being irrigated with reclaimed water, thanks to a project unveiled today by the city of Albuquerque and Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. The new system allows the Sunport to conserve approximately 4 million gallons of potable water each month.

“Making the airport more sustainable has been a top priority of our administration and one that we have been working towards on several fronts,” said Richard McCurley, Director of Aviation for the City of Albuquerque. “To see this water reclamation project take shape and now come to fruition marks a huge milestone in achieving our overall sustainability goals and master plan.”

“We listened to our community through our Climate Action Plan and learned it is important for large institutions like the City to strategize on how to use water more effectively,” said Sustainability Specialist, Denise Gonzales. “Finding creative ways to use water is a crucial step in preparing our city for climate adaptation.”

Non-potable recycled wastewater, treated at the Water Authority’s Southside Water Reclamation Plant, has been used on parks and golf courses in Southeast Albuquerque since 2012. The Sunport’s reclamation project ties the airport into this existing re-use system, which involved the installation of three booster pump stations and 260 linear feet of new re-use pipeline. With construction now complete, around 80 percent of irrigated areas on Sunport property are using recycled wastewater.

“Albuquerque is leading in the fight against climate change and we know a real strategy cannot just be about cutting emissions. We must be building resiliency into our community today,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “This project saves the equivalent of 500 household’s drinking water use and is critical to our climate resilience and adaptation strategies so we can create a healthier and more sustainable Albuquerque for future generations of Burqueños.”

City Councilor Klarissa Peña, who serves as Chairperson of the Water Authority’s governing board, said bringing recycled water to the Sunport was an important step in the expansion of the utility’s re-use program.

“The Sunport project is one piece of a much larger strategy to expand the use of reclaimed wastewater for irrigation throughout our service area,” Peña said. “Along with conservation, re-use forms the cornerstone of our long-term water resources management plan, which we call Water 2120.”

This project is one of several sustainability initiatives implemented by the Sunport in recent years, in an ongoing effort to become one of the country’s most environmentally conscious airports. Most notably, these accomplishments include installation of new photovoltaic solar systems, electric ground-handling equipment, recycling programs and plans for electric shuttle buses. These sustainability initiatives tie into the Keller Administrations goals including reaching 100% renewable energy by 2025. More information on the Sunport’s sustainability and environmental programs can be found here.


About Water Authority
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority provides water and wastewater services to the greater Albuquerque metropolitan area. The largest water and wastewater utility in New Mexico, it is nationally recognized for conservation programs that have seen per capita daily water usage reduced by more than half since 1994.

About the Albuquerque International Sunport
Owned and operated by the City of Albuquerque’s Aviation Department, The Albuquerque International Sunport is New Mexico’s largest commercial airport, welcoming over 5 million passengers each year. Served by 8 major carriers, the Sunport offers non-stop service between ABQ and 20 destinations, with worldwide connectivity. The Albuquerque International Sunport is the Gateway of New Mexico.

About the Environmental Health Department
The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department’s mission is to promote and protect public health in Albuquerque by preventing disease and by preserving the integrity and quality of our environment.

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