Santa Fe is Preparing for Third Consecutive Year of Drought

Santa Fe is Preparing for Third Consecutive Year of Drought

SANTA FE — February 20, 2013 — City water resource managers and decision-makers have been monitoring the drought conditions for the past two years. City water resources staff has kept up to date on the recent snowpack, reservoir levels and adverse weather conditions. According to Public Utilities Department and Water Utility Division Director Brian K. Snyder, “City staff has prepared planning documents, ordinances and operations plans for dealing with drought, and over the past two years we have been implementing these strategies. Water conservation and drought awareness are cornerstones of the City’s comprehensive water planning approach, drought or no drought.”

The City has invested in a robust and diverse mixture of surface and groundwater supply sources: the Buckman well field, City well field, Canyon Road Water Treatment Plant on the Upper Santa Fe River, and the Buckman Direct Diversion on the Rio Grande. These water sources are supplemented by reclaimed wastewater reuse and water conservation.  In case federal Bureau of Reclamation San Juan-Chama Project water is curtailed, the City also has several years’ worth of San Juan-Chama Project water stored in reservoirs. By resting the aquifer over the last four years there is increased groundwater supply for use in times of drought and the City can use this resource in a sustainable manner.

The City of Santa Fe is prepared for a third consecutive year of severe drought and heat. Should the drought conditions significantly worsen over the coming year, the City can invoke strategies to provide short-term relief from temporary drought-related water supply shortages, including mandatory water restrictions for certain types of water use.

Thanks to all of our customers who have used water wisely over the past 15 years, making more water available in times of drought. City policy makers are asking the community to continue to use water wisely. Weather predictions show this drought continuing through the summer. Santa Fe can continue to be a drought-ready community and reduce the effects of a drought by taking advantage of rebates and incentives, installing water-saving devices, fixing leaks and following indoor and outdoor water-use requirements.

For more information about water conservation in Santa Fe, including the Water Conservation and Drought Management Plan, residential and commercial rebate programs, and outdoor/indoor water use requirements, please visit more information call Rick Carpenter at 955-4206.


Comments and questions from Paul White, who forwarded this report to me: 
Will the City continue to release water for a “living river” (which would result in continued groundwater pumping thus affecting other “living rivers”), will the City impose water restrictions on outdoor watering?  When was the last time the City imposed “restrictions” on water use?  Are the City’s per capita water use table correct or fiction?

Will the City or County impose restrictions on development?  What about contingency planning in the SF County “Sustainable” land management Code?
What about priority calls for Texas, or the Navajo suit, the silvery Minnow? 
Paper rights vs. wet water?
-Paul White
   Comments and questions:          I also have many questions, especially in light of the fact that the McClure and Nichols reservoirs are well below record levels, there IS NO water coming from the San Juan-Chama project that supplies the Rio Grande with the allocation of water for Santa Fe through the Buckman Direct Diversion Project, nor has the city been pumping from the Buckman well field. (according to the daily Water Statistics in the New Mexican). Since before June 2012, there have been inadequate levels of water at the Oso Diversion Dam such that water cannot even reach the bottom of the Azotea Tunnel that is meant to bring water from the San-Juan project to the Chama River via the already severely low Heron and El Vado lakes. (See the article Op Ed Concerns About Our Water in the November 2012 issue of Green Fire Times)
Raphael Weisman
A map of the San Juan Chama project by Michael Aune is below:

Original report issued by:

Media Contact: Water Resources and Conservation Manager Rick Carpenter


Note to Editor: Sidebar Information Included:

Santa Fe’s average daily use is 107 gallons per person per day which is substantially lower than the national average of about 150 gallons.  Santa Fe has achieved its low use numbers through the implementation of a comprehensive set of ordinances that require Santa Fe’s citizens and businesses comply with water conservation requirements designed to provide financial incentives to conserve water.


Water Conservation Tips:

  • Sweep patios, driveways and sidewalks; never hose off paved surfaces.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry and dishes.
  • Take quick showers and use low-flow showerheads.
  • Turn off the faucet when brushing teeth.
  • Don’t let the water run to “heat it up.”
  • Look for leaks inside and out and fix them.
  • Use an irrigation calculator to create a water-saving irrigation schedule. The calculator at is designed for our local climate.
  • Use a sprinkler controller that adjusts watering based on weather.
  • Take advantage of the City of Santa Fe rebates for water-saving fixtures and appliance at

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