Our wa­ter

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - WATERMATTERS - CHRIS­TINE Y. CHAVEZ

When I was a lit­tle girl, one of my strong­est men­tors in life was my grand­fa­ther. Liv­ing in Taos, my grand­fa­ther grew up with an ace­quia that ran through the mid­dle of his prop­erty and he used that wa­ter to ir­ri­gate his al­falfa, which fed the live­stock upon which our fam­ily’s ex­is­tence was based. He then be­gan to ac­quire land and fight for the wa­ter rights as­so­ci­ated with those tracts of land.

By the age of 8, I was pretty well versed in the fam­ily’s strug­gles in es­tab­lish­ing and pro­tect­ing claims to wa­ter. I heard of the ace­quia own­ers’ meet­ings, I was shown sur­veys of tracts of land, and I was told by my grand­fa­ther that I was to be the fam­ily’s fu­ture in pro­tect­ing the wa­ter which was tied to our fam­ily land. I went on to be­lieve from a very young age that this­would be my mis­sion. I started work­ing with the New Mexico Of­fice of the State En­gi­neer as an in­tern when at­tend­ing col­lege and worked var­i­ous jobs there for the next 12 years. I worked with the City of Las Cruces on their wa­ter con­ser­va­tion pro­gram and had a great op­por­tu­nity to work with Los Alamos County, which is one of the few util­i­ties in the na­tion that man­ages en­ergy and wa­ter to­gether.

Learn­ing about the im­por­tance of wa­ter, un­der­stand­ing its role in my life and how it re­lates to the food I eat, the en­ergy I con­sume, and even the avail­abil­ity and qual­ity of that wa­ter rel­a­tive tomy daugh­ter’s fu­ture have all been part of a life­long jour­ney. The sum­ma­tion of what I’ve learned fro­moth­ers, what I’ve learned on my own, and how that knowl­edge of wa­ter re­lates to the rest of the world in­flu­ence my think­ing and be­hav­ior.

Wa­ter truly does con­nect all of us and its value can only be deter­mined on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis based on our back­grounds and our in­ter­ac­tions with others. Manag­ing the City of Santa Fe Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gram has given me an out­stand­ing op­por­tu­nity to work with com­mu­nity lead­ers, our youth, and var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions here in Santa Fe in de­vel­op­ing goals and pro­grams to con­tinue to move the City for­ward in its wa­ter con­ser­va­tion lead­er­ship. The City has one of the low­est gpcd (gal­lons per capita per day) con­sump­tion rates in the south­west and also has one of the largest wa­ter-con­ser­va­tion pro­grams in the state.

To con­tinue our suc­cess, though, we must ask our­selves what it will take to make these same gains in the fu­ture. That an­swer in my opin­ion falls out­side of any kind of pro­gram and ex­ists in­side each of us.

In sub­se­quent col­umns I will share with you what I knowabout wa­ter-re­lated mat­ters in our greater Santa Fe com­mu­nity, state, and re­gion. I will try to keep you ap­prised about up­com­ing wa­ter-re­lated meet­ings, de­scribe im­por­tant re­lated leg­is­la­tion, pro­vide news about di­verse as­pects of wa­ter sup­ply and use here in north­ern New Mexico, and I will of­fer my ad­vice on how we can all be­come bet­ter stew­ards of this valu­able re­source.

Chris­tine Y. Chavez has a back­ground in wa­ter rights ad­min­is­tra­tion and en­ergy and wa­ter con­ser­va­tion pro­gram man­age­ment in the state of New Mexico. She is a grad­u­ate of New Mexico State Univer­sity with a B.S. in en­vi­ron­men­tal science and an M.S. in bi­ol­ogy. Chris­tine is theWater Con­ser­va­tion Man­ager for the City of Santa Fe. She may be reached at 505.955.4219 or cy­chavez@santafenm.gov.

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