Watershed As­so­ci­a­tion wins award


The Santa Fe RiverWater­shed con­sists of about 182,400 acres and is a sub-basin of the Rio Gran­deWater­shed. It in­cludes the two reser­voirs of the Santa Fe Mu­nic­i­palWater­shed, which can con­trib­ute as much as half of our City and County wa­ter sup­ply in some years. I re­cently joined the board of the Santa FeWater­shed As­so­ci­a­tion and I have an ever-in­creas­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the work they do in our com­mu­nity. The or­ga­ni­za­tion was re­cently hon­ored by the Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Foundation with a pres­ti­gious Piñon Award for ap­ply­ing its four-pil­lared strat­egy of ed­u­ca­tion, restoration, ste­ward­ship and ad­vo­cacy to work to­ward bring­ing back a healthy and vi­brant river run­ning through the heart of Santa Fe and hon­or­ing the con­nec­tion of peo­ple and the watershed.

The SFWA was founded in 1997. You may re­mem­ber when Amer­i­can Rivers, a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and ad­vo­cacy group that seeks to pro­tect and re­store rivers, de­clared the Santa Fe River to be “Amer­ica’s most en­dan­gered river” in 2007. It is dif­fi­cult to re­fute that 2015 has been a good year for the river, with city con­tri­bu­tions to the river ex­ceed­ing the re­quired (wet year) con­tri­bu­tion of 1,000 acre-feet of wa­ter, as per the 2012 Liv­ing River Or­di­nance, for which theWater­shed As­so­ci­a­tion was a ma­jor ad­vo­cate.

The greatly im­proved ap­pear­ance of the Santa Fe River in 2015 is due not only to the rather wet spring and early sum­mer, and to forced diver­sions to the river be­cause of (al­most com­pleted) con­struc­tion work at McClure Reser­voir, but also to the role the Santa FeWater­shed As­so­ci­a­tion plays in river cleanups and to the busi­nesses and com­mu­nity groups that “spon­sor” reaches of the river with tax-de­ductible con­tri­bu­tions un­der its Adopt­the-River pro­gram.

Schools, neigh­bor­hood as­so­ci­a­tions and com­mu­nity groups serve as Adopt­the-River Stew­ards, part­ner­ing with River Spon­sors to keep des­ig­nated stretches of the river free of trash and graf­fiti, and lined with na­tive veg­e­ta­tion, by pro­vid­ing the la­bor for this pro­gram. Road­side signs ac­knowl­edge spon­sor­ship. Reaches of the river cur­rently avail­able for spon­sor­ship are noted on the web­site. The or­ga­ni­za­tion is now seek­ing spon­sors to help clean up the ar­royos that feed the river.

In ad­di­tion, SFWA staff are ac­tively in­volved in watershed ed­u­ca­tion in the schools, (the MyWater, MyWater­shed pro­gram), adult ed­u­ca­tion (Cli­mate Masters), and in lead­ing ed­u­ca­tional hikes to the up­per watershed, in con­junc­tion with the City of Santa Fe and theU.S. For­est Ser­vice. I en­cour­age you to pe­ruse the SFWA web­site, which of­fers ex­pla­na­tions of its pro­grams, lists up­com­ing events and is also an ex­cel­lent re­source for every­thing that goes on in thewater­shed — in­clud­ing pre­scribed burns. The SFWA al­ways wel­comes in­di­vid­u­als and groups who arewil­l­ing to con­trib­ute their time and la­bor to im­prove the river­scape.

The SFWA is sup­ported by grants from other non-prof­its, gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties, and in­di­vid­ual memberships. (Please join!) A ma­jor fund-rais­ing event is planned for later this year, with the goal of seek­ing ad­di­tional fund­ing sources and re­cur­ring bene­fac­tors and donors.

StephenWi­man has a back­ground in earth sci­ence (M.S. and Ph.D. in ge­ol­ogy). He is the owner of GoodWater Com­pany, a mem­ber of the City of Santa Fe’sWater Con­ser­va­tion Com­mit­tee and he serves on the Board of the Santa FeWater­shed As­so­ci­a­tion. He may be reached at 505.471.9036 and skwiman@good­wa­ter­com­pany.com.

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