The Santa Fe River is currently flowing through the City Different. The recent rainfall and the upgrade of the Nichols Dam have enabled the City of Santa Fe to send approximately 1.25 million gallons per day into the river. Some of the flow is to support a living Santa Fe River and some is to drain the Nichols Reservoir for the intake structure construction project.
River water is flowing because Nichols Dam has been taken out of service and water levels must be drawn down for the removal of the existing intake tower. The intake tower is the structure that funnels water to the treatment plant. The water in Nichols Reservoir is typically treated at the Canyon Road Water Treatment Plant and delivered to consumers, while a portion may be by-passed to the Santa Fe River as part of the living river program.
September rainfall has made a significant impact on reservoir storage. The McClure Reservoir is at 81 percent capacity with an inflow rate of approximately 12 million gallons per day. As recently as a September 12, 2013, the McClure Reservoir was at approximately 30 percent of capacity with an inflow rate of less than 0.25 million gallons per day.
“The timing of recent rainfall and the infrastructure improvements at Nichols Reservoir has worked out very well for the objectives of the city's Santa Fe River Target Flow Program,” said Brian Drypolcher, River and Watershed Coordinator for the City of Santa Fe. “We're moving water down the river before plants go dormant for the winter. The flowing water looks great, sounds great and it comes at a time that's good for the ecosystems along the river.”
The river flows are administered under the terms of the City's "Target Flow" ordinance in support of the Living River Initiative (Ordinance #2012-1 0). The ordinance provides that up to 1000 acre feet of water can be by-passed from diversion and use and allowed to flow through the city and beyond. In years when the forecast for the runoff from mountain snows falls below 75 percent of the annual average, river flows are scaled downward. For the current target year, the runoff from mountain snows was forecast to be at about 32 percent of average. Consistent with the Target Flow guidelines, river flows were scaled downward to match the forecast and the river water commitment was capped at 320 acre feet for the year. Current flows will enable the City of Santa Fe to meet this year’s flow objectives.