How Santa Fe is already meeting a new regional water conservation agreement

Santa Fe recognizes that a reliable water supply is essential to the drought-stricken Colorado River that we rely on. Our water supply is closely tied to the Colorado River, which flows into the San Juan and Chama tributaries that are then diverted into the Rio Grande and then pulled from the Rio Grande by the City and County’s Buckman Direct Diversion facilities.

More than 30 water agencies and providers, including the City of Santa Fe, have committed to take additional actions to reducing water demands and helping protect the Colorado River system. Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was delivered to the Bureau of Reclamation, municipal and public water providers in the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basin affirmed their commitments to implement comprehensive and innovative water conservation programs, initiatives, policies, and actions within their communities.

Fortunately, as a recognized leader in water conservation, the City has already implemented many of the MOU requirements. 

To increase drought and climate resistant landscaping while maintaining vital tree canopies, the City in the last two years became a Bee City and Tree City, USA, established a Bees, Trees and Water program and established the TreeSmart Santa Fe program.  There is also a TreeSmart Giveaway Program Pilot currently in place in three different neighborhoods. We have demonstration gardens and resources on waterwise and pollinator plant guides.

Parks has engaged in turf replacement programs and removed non-essential turf at Ragle Park and SWAN Park, and irrigation improvements with turf reductions are in the planning stages at Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe Golf Course.

To continue and expand conservation and efficiency programs to accelerate water savings, the City already has ordinances in place to limit the types of turf that can be planted and has an enforceable mandatory water schedule. We have a long-standing rebate program that incentivizes outdoor (and indoor) water efficiency. We have a conservation-oriented rate structure. We are currently involved in a national cooling tower pilot with the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) organization. An annual American Water Works Association (AWWA) water loss audit is conducted as a condition of approval on the city’s Water Rights. Our Santa Fe Water 2100 long term water plan project attempts to coordinate land use and water planning through the City’s current planning processes.

Having reduced per capita average use by nearly 50% since 1995, the City of Santa Fe is considered a leader in Water Conservation and was able to immediately identify work being done in the key areas listed in the MOU.  Becoming a signatory helps establish focus points for continued conservation efforts. The City of Santa Fe is already implementing the conservation practices outlined in the MOU and will continue to refine and enhance programs to meet the goals and objectives of the 2020 Water Conservation Plan.

Our actions have a profound effect on the health of the Rio Grande watershed, not only for us, but for everyone who relies on it to supply water.