Wa­ter ex­perts meet in Santa Fe

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The West­ern Coali­tion of Arid States (WESTCAS) held its an­nual con­fer­ence at the Inn and Spa at Loretto in late June. The theme was “Max­i­miz­ing Wa­ter Resources Through Recharge, Re­use, and Re­cy­cle.” WESTCAS de­scribes it­self as “an or­ga­ni­za­tion of wa­ter and waste­water ser­vice providers who ad­vo­cate for wa­ter resources in the arid south­west.” I highly rec­om­mend that you visit the con­fer­ence link, as there are slide pre­sen­ta­tions of some timely re­gional-scale work as well as some topics of great lo­cal in­ter­est, among them “Aamodt Set­tle­ment and Re­gional Wa­ter Sys­tem (pre­sented by Sandra Ely, Santa Fe County Util­i­ties), “Aamodt Set­tle­ment” (John Ut­ton), and “Progress To­ward a Sus­tain­able Drinking Wa­ter Sup­ply” (Randy Su­grue, Buck­man Di­rect Di­ver­sion Project staff). See http:// westcas.org/Events_Pre­sen­ta­tions/2016_ Events/in­dex.html

I learned about the con­fer­ence through Wil­liam Sch­nei­der, pro­fes­sional ge­ol­o­gist and wa­ter resources co­or­di­na­tor for the City of Santa Fe. Bill’s pre­sen­ta­tion, “Op­ti­miz­ing Re­use to Head Off Cli­mate Change,” is a syn­the­sis of work in progress among tech­ni­cal ex­perts from the City, the New Mex­ico Of­fice of the State En­gi­neer, the Bu­reau of Recla­ma­tion (BLM), Carollo En­gi­neers, JSAI (John Shomaker & As­so­ciates, Inc.) and CDMSmith. Bill has been keep­ing me ap­prised of his­work as project man­ager for the City on the col­lab­o­ra­tive 2015-2016 Carollo En­gi­neers con­sult­ing project, A Fea­si­bil­ity Study to Op­ti­mize the Use of Re­gional Re­claimed Waste­water. This work, plus a 2016 up­date of the BLM/City of Santa Fe/Santa Fe County Santa Fe Basin Study: Adap­ta­tions to Pro­jected Changes in­Water Sup­ply and De­mand, will be used in the 2016 re­vi­sion of the City’s long-range wa­ter sup­ply plan.

Use­ful pre­vi­ous work by city staff on re­claimed waste­water as a wa­ter source in­cludes a re­port done by Clau­dia Borchert (now Util­i­ties Di­vi­sion di­rec­tor for Santa Fe County) and a work­ing group of in­ter­ested cit­i­zens: Re­claimedWastew­a­ter Re­source Plan, 2013.

Af­ter re­view­ing our cur­rent sup­ply sources, the pos­si­ble im­pacts of cli­mate change (mod­els that pre­dict 25 per­cent de­creases in river flows), forces such as hot­ter/drier cli­mates and in­creased evap­o­tran­spi­ra­tion that re­duce our con­sid­er­able gains from con­ser­va­tion and us­ing sus­tain­able ground­wa­ter sources, as well as pro­jec­tions for pop­u­la­tion growth in the area, Mr. Sch­nei­der re­views adap­ta­tion strate­gies to off­set cli­mate change. He notes that a key strat­egy in off­set­ting cli­mate change is ex­pand­ing wa­ter re­use. Bill then out­lines seven proposed al­ter­na­tives and com­pares the yield, cost and ef­fec­tive­ness of each. He nar­rows down the four most de­sir­able al­ter­na­tives us­ing weighted screen­ing de­ci­sion scores and then he sum­ma­rizes the chal­lenges of each of the top al­ter­na­tives.

Just from read­ing a lit­tle about this con­fer­ence and the on­go­ing wa­ter sup­ply planning at the City’sWater Di­vi­sion, one cer­tainly gets the mes­sage that there is great con­cern about the un­cer­tain­ties of cli­mate change and our abil­ity to meet the fu­ture wa­ter de­mands of this com­mu­nity. Right­fully so… de­spite the wide­spread de­nial of cli­mate change by some politi­cians. Bill Sch­nei­der’s pre­sen­ta­tion is a thought­ful work-in-progress eval­u­a­tion of our cur­rent and fu­ture wa­ter sup­plies and I am cer­tainly ap­pre­cia­tive that this work is be­ing done now on our be­half by such qual­i­fied and ded­i­cated pro­fes­sion­als. Have a look for your­self.

StephenWi­man holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in ge­ol­ogy and is a re­tired petroleum ge­ol­o­gist. He spent eleven years lo­cally in wa­ter test­ing, in­ter­pre­ta­tion of test re­sults and wa­ter re­me­di­a­tion. He is 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 skwiman@icloud.com.


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