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 firstname.lastname@example.org.