Water experts meet in Santa Fe
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.