ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest water utility has started operating its first aquifer storage well, and officials say more direct injection wells are planned within the utility's service area through Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

Testing of the new system began Monday. The well will allow excess surface water to be stored underground for later use, keeping it safe from any losses due to evaporation.

Officials say the $1 million well is part of a larger water management strategy that also includes conservation and re-use.

The well injects water more than 1,200 feet (365.76 meters) below the surface at a rate of 1,750 gallons (6,624.47 liters) per minute. The amount of water injected yearly will depend on the amount of excess surface water available from the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project.

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