The City of Santa Fe Water Division is prepared to tap into more groundwater to meet this summer’s water use demand. As Rio Grande and upper Santa Fe River surface water levels decrease, the municipal water system can switch from relying on surface water for daily water use and rely more on wells that draw groundwater from the aquifer.
The city’s approach to coping with the drought begins with a variety of planning documents, ordinances and operations plans. The city has invested in a robust and diverse portfolio of surface and ground water supplies to ensure Santa Fe’s water supply is here for the long-term so that we can manage for drought conditions. Santa Fe’s water comes from the Buckman well field, the city well field, the Canyon Road Water Treatment Plant treating Santa Fe River water, and the Buckman Direct Diversion on the Rio Grande. Surface water diverted from the Rio Grande and the upper Santa Fe River, are the primary sources of water for the city.
“Santa Fe has a very diversified and sustainable water supply – two surface water sources that are derived from the two different regional water basins (San Juan- Chama basin via the Rio Grande and Upper Santa Fe River Watershed) and two groundwater resources- something very rare in the American Southwest,” said Rick Carpenter, city water resource and conservation manager. Groundwater is pumped as needed to supplement surface water supplies.
The city’s fresh water supplies are also supplemented by a significant amount of reclaimed treated wastewater. The reclaimed wastewater is put to non-potable beneficial use in a variety of ways which helps offset what otherwise might be uses requiring irrigation from potable sources.
“Using more groundwater when surface water is less available has always been the plan. By resting the aquifer over the last four years, we’ve stretched the available groundwater supplies, which we can turn to in this third year of drought,” stated Carpenter.
Year-round water restrictions also play an important part in the city’s water resource planning. “Most Santa Feans are water warriors, using an average of 59 gallons per person per day, less than most in the Southwest,” said Laurie Trevizo, city water conservation manager.
Currently, the city’s water demand is being met by water system supply. However, if this situation changes, the City Council can declare emergency water restrictions and invoke the Emergency Water Management Plan in two stages – water warning orange and water crisis red – with restrictions that increase with the level of the emergency. Water Warning Orange begins when the water system can only supply 80 percent to 99 percent of operational water demand. Water Crisis Red begins when our water system can supply less than 80 percent of demand. In Water Crisis Red nearly all outdoor irrigation using potable (drinking water) is prohibited. Gray water use is not restricted. (See Sidebar for Restrictions).
To find out more about the city’s plans for handling drought, please visit www.savewatersantafe.com
On-Going Water Restrictions
· No outdoors watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and no more than three times per week.
· Outdoor swimming pools must be covered when not in use.
· Vehicle washing at residences is limited to once per month, per vehicle, and must be done with a hose equipped with a “positive shut-off nozzle,” one that automatically shuts off when not in use.
· Commercial car sale lots and other commercial and governmental entities with on-site vehicle washing facilities are limited to washing each vehicle one time per month except under certain circumstances.
· No one is allowed to use water to clean sidewalks, driveways, patios or other hard surfaces with a hose or power washer.
· Water from landscape irrigation cannot flow onto hard surfaces or neighboring properties.
· Hand watering must be done with a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle and overhead watering is prohibited for trees and shrubs.
· Turf grass sod or grass seed mixes cannot contain more than 25 percent Kentucky bluegrass.
· A permit is required for all new irrigation system installations.
· Those who violate the water-use rules can be fined up to $200. Violations are applied to water bills. Those who want to report water waste can call 995-4222. To report watering at City Parks call 955-2100.
Emergency Water Restrictions (if invoked)
Water Warning Orange
Trigger: Water System Supply Can Only Supply 80 percent to 99 percent of demand.
· Landscape irrigation is limited to no more than twice a week. Odd home addresses can water Wednesday and Sunday. Even addresses can water Tuesday and Saturday.
· Vehicle washing is discouraged and only with a shut-off nozzle.
· Ponds and fountains are allowed.
· One initial filling is allowed for both indoor and outdoor swimming pools and spas.
· Water for parks, public schools, athletic fields and roadside landscaping is reduced.
Water Crisis – Red
Trigger: Water system can only supply less than 80 percent of demand and nearly all outdoor irrigation using potable (drinking) water is prohibited.
· No landscape water allowed.
· No vehicle washing.
· No ponds or fountains are allowed.
· Swimming pools and spas are prohibited.
· Parks, public schools, athletic fields and roadside landscaping will be watered enough to maintain the health of plants.