Santa Fe's 5-Year Water Conservation Plan

In 2020 we updated our 5-year Water Conservation Plan using public input collected through meetings and online submissions and we've since continued to keep you informed on progress and continued to ask for your valuable input.


Please check back soon for meeting details!

Water Conservation Plan: 2024 Mid-Year Progress Report


The WCO scorecard has been an effective tool to guide, measure, and report on WCO projects. The 2024 Scorecard is designed to provide broad guidance to the WCO and its programs, while the 5-Year Scorecard will be the primary guidance document for the WCO during the 2020-2025 planning period.
2024 Mid-Year Scorecard

Below is a summary of progress made in the first half of 2023 on each of the Water Conservation Goals:

Goal 1: Education, Outreach & Communications

Backpack pilot data indicated that booklet needed to be aligned with another education program.  Phase II will be aligned with the “My Water, My Watershed Program” in spring 2023.  Feedback will be collected on a pre and post assessment.
4-year contract was approved to work with the Santa Fe Watershed Association on our education programming that includes:

  • My water, My Watershed program for 5th graders
  • Arroyo learning and stewardship for 6th graders
  • Water monitoring projects for middle and high school students
  • Climate Masters training for adults
  • Municipal Watershed Tours for adults
The NGWS was free to all county and city residents this year and provided multiple platforms for the community to learn about and discuss local water issues.  The theme was Growth in a Time of Drought and had over 425 registrants.  

As part of the NGWS, community tours of Water Conservation’s demonstration Garden and nearby neighborhood raingarden were held.  We also hosted “Pollinator Day” at the Railyard Conservancy Park and distributed native seeds and raffled three rain barrels.

Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) training components developed online in cooperation with the SFCC EnergySmart Academy.  The irrigation audit for the course was completed at the Sand River Cohousing neighborhood engaging community residents to learn about their outdoor water use and opportunities to use water more efficiently.

Water Conservation is coordinating closely with a larger city marketing team with representatives from each department.

Social media marketing is aligned with monthly themes that originated from public input that is supported by print and digital media, radio show, monthly article in the Santa Fe New Mexican and targeted neighborhood messaging.

Goal #2: Customer Service

Pilot project developed by the Outdoor subcommittee and approved by Water Division Director in partnership with YouthWorks.  The Santa Fe Community College will provide opportunities to earn micro credentials as part of pilot and on-the-job training in our water conservation auditing program for at risk youth.
Demand Dashboard has been developed providing geographic analysis of customer data including water usage by  area / neighborhood, rebate utilization, lot size, irrigation practices, etc.

The EyeOnWater tool was a focus of the Education Resource Booklet for families to track water use.  The booklet serves as a citizen science program.

As part of the StopLeak Pilot, staff tracked city department leaks and worked with City representatives to address them in a timely manner.  EyeOnWater training was provided.  A lead by example resolution will be completed in 2023 requiring City departments to designate a lead.

A rebate analysis was completed indicating that changes need to be considered in 2023 that include removing the 1.28 gpf toilet and consideration of outdoor irrigation equipment and turf removal. 

Commercial shopping center pilot completed, and rebate package has been proposed that meet conditions of the custom retrofit rebate. 

Rebate program needs to be updated but we are waiting on the results from some of our pilot projects which will inform some of the changes or additions that need to be made.

The pilot is in year two of development.  Quantifications on water savings has been developed.  The pilot shifts the focus from residential leaks to commercial leaks. 

Several leaks were addressed internally with the City Facilities department and repaired quickly.  Midtown campus was a focus area.

Several outdoor campaigns were launched in 2022 giving us multiple platforms for messaging and public input engagement that our website and other city platforms support.

  • Bee City, USA designation
  • Tree City, USA designation
  • TreeSmart Santa Fe Initiative
  • Mayor’s Monarch Pledge
  • Bees, Trees and Water Campaign

Worked with City Parks and Santa Fe Public Schools to identify turf replacement projects that the Water Conservation Office could incentivize with its custom retrofit rebate.

Signed an MOU with other states to look at non-essential turf removal.  Partnered with other signatories/ stakeholders in the state to propose statewide legislation to eliminate non-essential turf on commercial properties to be considered in the 2023 legislative session.

An Outdoor Pilot Program was developed by the Outdoor subcommittee in partnership with YouthWorks.  Partnerships put in place with work project beginning in spring 2023.

Water Conservation partnered with Parks and Environmental services with a grant from Keep Santa Fe Beautiful to pilot a tree giveaway program in 3 neighborhoods coupled with a rain barrel to 75 households.  Education materials were developed, and tree data will be collected for the next two years on survivability of what was planted.

Goal #3: Partnerships and Pilot Projects

Current neighborhood pilots include:

Nave Ade, Casa Linda, The Commons and Sand River Co-housing.

The Sombra Court neighborhood raingarden pilot was completed to Phase I.  Phase II will begin in 2023.  The demonstration site will be toured as part of the 2023 Next Generation Water Summit.

Additional partners to the list for 2022 would be the Santa Fe Community College, Xerces Society, Railyard Conservancy Park and Randall Davey Audubon Center.
The cooling tower pilot with the Alliance for Water Efficiency has been completed.  Published results will be available in 2023 and will inform the commercial water conservation subcommittee on incentives for more efficient cooling tower operations.
A 4-year contract was implemented to work with the Santa Fe Community College to administer the City’s WaterWise program.  This includes development of training, certifications and payment to auditors for audits of restaurants, hotels and commercial buildings such as shopping centers.

Commercial Water Auditor program created with certification.  Commercial pilot program completed with St. Mike’s Village.

Pilot rebate for the Shopping Center is being developed with a range of incentives that meet the requirements of the current Custom retrofit rebate.

Administrative procedures were not developed.

Goal #4: Program Management

Water Conservation Enforcement Officer position was advertised three times.  A hire could not be made.  Efforts were placed on leveraging the technical resources of the Water Resources team to assist with pilot projects and water savings quantification.  
Internal processes were developed in 2022 after a BAR was pursued to fund additional water conservation programming in FY22.  Part of the approval process entailed Water Division approval on pilot projects that would require an expansion of budget.  

Budget triggers aligned with the Water Resource Indicator still need to be developed.

Progress has been made on our demonstration gardens. In 2022, we planted pollinator plants and a pollinator kit from the Xerces society.  

Building experienced a break last year.  Someone broke in through a window during the workday when staff was present.  Repairs on property fencing was made and additional security on building windows.

Homeless encampment located in demonstration garden.  Additional signage and security measures need to be implemented in 2023.

Office disinfected twice a week.

Security needs to be improved at the office and on the grounds.

This work includes subcommittees focused on outdoor use, commercial conservation and a joint subcommittee comprised of the County’s Water Policy Advisory Committee (WPAC) and the City’s 

Water Resources Indicator was developed and vetted with internal city and county staff.  The methodology will be piloted in 2022 and drought triggers and responses will be developed in 2023.  Work had to be put on hold until a county liaison was hired to assist with the joint committee.

Public input was not collected in July 2022.  2022 Scorecard was developed out of line with the annual schedule.  
These projects required technical assistance from the Water Resources staff.  Extension granted from the Office of the State Engineer until January 31, 2023, to submit the 2021 GPCD.  Annual report and AWWA audit include updated GPCD data.

Water Conservation Plan: 2021 Mid-Year Progress Report

How are we doing?

During the first half of 2021, City of Santa Fe’s Water Conservation Office began an ongoing partnership with the Santa Fe County Water Utility to develop resources to help city and county customers use water more efficiently.

Additionally, two neighborhood water conservation pilot projects are currently underway in Santa Fe, one that uses a top-down approach to a large neighborhood and another that uses a roots-up approach to address a specific location. Both the Santa Fe 25-Year Sustainability Plan and the public input collected during the past few years of work in the Water Conservation Office have emphasized the importance and potential of neighborhood scale water conservation efforts. 

2023 Mid-Year Report

Please view our 2021 Mid-Year Report to see the progress we're making on our 5-Year Water Conservation Plan (2020).


Below is a summary of progress made in the first half of 2021 on each of the Water Conservation Goals:

Goal 1: Education, Outreach & Communications

A lot of progress was made on this goal. We've really expanded our drought messaging in partnership with the County and have developed an education resource booklet that we will pilot summer 2021. This. effort will incorporate many of our Water Passport Education Program principles, along with adult messaging on City programs and initiatives.

Many adult outreach goals were met through the Next Generation Water Summit with the theme of Drought, Growth and Social Inequity. These were topics the community wanted to learn more about, and many departments were being asked questions related to these topics. A local expert panel was created to address the public's concerns and to answer any questions.

We have also had three in-person events to provide resources to the public on outdoor strategies to use water most efficiently while considering other environmental implications like loss of trees and pollinator habitats. We have also expanded our own water conservation demonstration garden to showcase these plantings, as well as a new neighborhood raingarden pilot project that showcases these different principles as well.

Our education goals for the upcoming school year will be adjusted once the school year is re-established with COVID practices that direct our efforts in the public schools. Internally, we worked across departments to try to address questions about drought and create consistent messaging on water related topics that connected all departments.

Goal #2: Customer Service

A lot of progress has also been made on this goal. The Next Generation Water Summit (NGWS) allowed us to have close discussions with the EPA WaterSense and Alliance for Water Efficiency programs to discuss national projects focusing on social inequity. We are beginning to gather information on related programming as well as program administration.

We currently have a partnership with the SFCC to assist us with water auditing projects and working toward establishing another potential partnership for low income plumbing and fixture assistance programs. We continue to use City technology to help us accomplish our customer service goals including EyeOnWater and the Survey 123 tool and have identified opportunities to partner with ongoing water division projects to expand the effectiveness of new technologies.

Our rebate program has maxed out all funding this FY. One of our rebates was for an internal retrofit project on 13 city buildings resulting in a water savings of over 6 acre-feet.

There was a large focus on leaks in spring 2021. We've greatly boosted drought, enforcement and water use restrictions across all platforms including NextDoor, Facebook, Instagram, our Save Water Santa Fe website, city social media outlets and our weekly radio show. Our continuous flow program has continued and leak detection is prioritized in all of our pilot projects.

The Water Conservation Office has done well working with other departments/ organizations on joint water conservation programs, the two largest campaigns of which are the Bees, Trees and Water campaign and the TreeSmart Santa Fe initiative. Additionally, staff are also involved in other multi-departmental sustainability work and in collaborative city efforts to improve outreach and messaging.

Goal #3: Partnerships and Pilot Projects

The Water Conservation Office is a small office and partnerships leverage the work of the small group by collaboration with larger projects. The WCO has many partners that we work closely with. Some of these organizations include: Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, Santa Fe Watershed Association, Santa Fe County Master Gardeners, Randall Davey Audubon Center, Santa Fe Public Schools, Santa  Fe Botanical Gardens, Xerces Society; and other city Departments such as Parks, Public Works and Environmental Services. Pilot projects are also a way for us to quickly gain information on proposed programming. We have several ongoing pilot projects/programs which include work with restaurants, hotels, commercial properties and residential subdivisions to identify water conservation opportunities.

Covid restrictions have changed the way that we collaborate and as work has become more streamlined with the new technology allowing remote meetings, partnership opportunities have expanded and the pool of expertise available to the Water Conservation Office has become both deeper and broader.

Goal #4: Program Management

The Water Conservation Office is fully staffed and the Water Conservation Committee currently has full membership.  A strategic planning effort was completed for the water division and launched this calendar year which is being integrated down to each section in the city water division. Due to COVID, the WCO learned how to do business in a hybrid mode. Everyone had the capability to work from home so the work was easily divided so that COVID safety requirements could be met. Safety and professional training opportunities were given and met through the Next Generation Water Summit, City training through Local Gov and safety training developed by the water division. The FY 2022 budget for water conservation was approved and will take effect on July 1, 2021.

Our water conservation demonstration gardens have never looked better. We are not showcasing a cactus garden put in for us by the Cactus Rescue Project and a native plant garden showcasing new pollinator plants.  Our water conservation committee currently has three working groups focusing on outdoor demand, commercial sector opportunities and with the County's Water Policy Advisory Committee to look at joint water conservation opportunities.


The WCO scorecard has been an effective tool to guide, measure, and report on WCO projects. The 2021 Scorecard is designed to provide broad guidance to the WCO and its programs, while the 5-Year Scorecard will be the primary guidance document for the WCO during the 2020-2025 planning period.
2021 Mid-Year Scorecard

Water Conservation Plan: 2020 Progress Report

How are we doing?

It was a challenging year but the water conservation office did a great job meeting its goals due to the flexibility built into this scorecard. Ongoing programs like public outreach and the education program that have been essential components of the office endured the biggest impacts of 2020. The Water Conservation Office (WCO) is continuing critical programs including tracking water usage efficiency, issuing rebates to water customers, and sending out leak letters to warn customers of likely leaks.

Looking ahead to 2021, the following will be the water conservation office foci:

  • City partnerships – City’s Canopy project, Bee’s City USA, Neighborhood pilot in Nave Ade, Neighborhood raingarden pilot that includes building out places and demonstrations that the public can visit and still maintain social distancing
  • Complete overhaul of education program – build out of virtual hybrid passport model to launch in fall 2021 with help of a task force of previous passport teachers and city education outreach partners
  • Work with other city departments such as the library, recreation and transportation to distribute outreach material to children and adults
  • Incorporate messaging into the art community (art commission, tourism)
  • Updates to rebate program that include passive rainwater capture such as rain gardens to encourage residents to utilize supplemental water sources for outdoor irrigation
  • Focus on reducing outdoor water use beginning with public input sessions held with stakeholders to help inform the program foundation
  • Continue to work closely with the Water Conservation Committee under the leadership of Councilor Romero-Wirth to continue to discuss water conservation opportunities for the City of Santa Fe.

The WCO uses this scorecard to track progress against identified goals. The Water Conservation Committee (WCC) scores the WCO on the progress made mid-year – none, some, significant, or complete. This document contains a graphic snapshot for each goal, followed by detailed metrics on the complete mid-2020 WCO scorecard table.

Below is a summarized snapshot of progress made in 2020 on each of the Water Conservation Goals.


Click to view the detailed 2020 Scorecard
The WCO scorecard has been an effective tool to guide, measure, and report on WCO projects. The 2020 Scorecard is designed to provide broad guidance to the WCO and its programs, while the 5-Year Scorecard will be the primary guidance document for the WCO during the 2020-2025 planning period.


We engage our Santa Fe water customers on air during our weekly radio program Save Water Santa Fe. Airs Thursday mornings at 8:30. Tune in live at AM 810 or stream on demand.

The 5-Year Water Conservation Plan has been making the airwaves. Listen to some most recent shows with guests that include Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and Santa Fe City Councilor Carol Romero Wirth. Also, Water Conservation Manager Christine Chavez was a guest on the Richard Eeds Show.