Zero runoff should be our goal

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - WATERENERGYNEXUS - DOUG PUSHARD

To­day we al­low a pre­cious re­source to flow away. In fact, in many cases we en­cour­age it to go down the drain. We have done an amaz­ing job of drilling, pip­ing, and mov­ing wa­ter to ac­com­mo­date our de­sired lifestyles. It is one of the rea­sons we can thrive in an arid area. But at the same time, we have treated this same re­source with dis­dain. We don’t want it on our prop­erty, our neigh­bor­hood, or even close by. We build our houses to shed wa­ter as quickly as pos­si­ble. We build our lots to do the same. We build our streets with drainage sys­tems to move this nui­sance away as quickly as pos­si­ble.

But the time of cheap, easily ac­ces­si­ble wa­ter is past and it is time to re­think our ap­proach to this life-sus­tain­ing re­source. We need to keep ev­ery drop on our prop­erty, in our neigh­bor­hood, and as much as pos­si­ble in the city.

Santa Fe did not have sig­nif­i­cantly more wa­ter in the past. We pumped less wa­ter and the river was al­lowed to in­fil­trate our neigh­bor­hoods as it flowed off the moun­tain. This was be­fore we dammed, chan­neled, and blocked the nat­u­ral flow. Although flood­ing is not some­thing we should con­trive to re­turn to, in­fil­tra­tion is. It will recharge our lo­cal aquifer, our nat­u­ral wa­ter stor­age sys­tem.

We spend large amounts of tax­payer dol­lars on chan­nel­ing wa­ter off Cer­ril­los Road, which still floods af­ter ev­ery ma­jor storm. We con­tinue to build more homes and com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments to con­trib­ute to this flood­ing.

I re­peat, ZERO runoff should be our goal. To do this, we need to re­think how we build and han­dle rain and runoff. It is not stormwa­ter; it is wa­ter that can help sus­tain us long-term. In­stead of chan­nel­ing it away, we need to bermit, pond it, slow it down; al­low it to in­fil­trate here in our back yards. This will con­tin­u­ally recharge our lo­cal aquifer.

We pay taxes that are used for stormwa­ter up­grades through­out the city as well as for im­prove­ments to the Santa Fe River to pre­vent fur­ther ero­sion. These taxes do not pay to elim­i­nate the cause of the prob­lem, just the ef­fect. Con­sider a rain­wa­ter tax that would only be paid if there is runoff; oth­er­wise there would be no tax. To­day we can get a ci­ta­tion for let­ting wa­ter run off our prop­erty. A rain­wa­ter tax­would be the same, but­would be im­ple­mented at the be­gin­ning, when a build­ing is built, and then ev­ery year un­til the runoff is re­tained on­site.

This would drive our wa­ter con­sump­tion down, and rev­enues that are col­lected could be fun­neled back into the wa­ter-con­ser­va­tion pro­gram. Let’s cre­ate a cy­cle of sav­ings that will last for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Doug Pushard, founder of the web­site www.Har­vestH2o.com, has de­signed and in­stalled residential rain­wa­ter sys­tems for over a decade. He is a mem­ber of the Santa FeWater Con­ser­va­tion Com­mit­tee, a life­time mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Rain­wa­ter Catch­ment Sys­tems As­so­ci­a­tion, and an EPAWaterSense Part­ner. He can be reached at doug@Har­vestH2o.com.

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