A wa­ter econ­omy?


Some city in the United States will be­come the wa­ter-re­cy­cling cap­i­tal of the coun­try. Why not Santa Fe, New Mex­ico? This is a log­i­cal place to grow this in­dus­try. Santa Fe by ne­ces­sity has a large need for re­cy­cled wa­ter. We are an area prone to drought. We have a very high ra­tio of wa­ter pro­fes­sion­als in our state. These are a few rea­sons we could be­come the wa­ter-re­use cap­i­tal of the coun­try.

Why not put pro­grams to­gether to make this an eco­nomic en­gine for the area as well as New Mex­ico? Is­rael has used its need for wa­ter con­ser­va­tion to grow multi­bil­lion-dol­lar world­wide wa­ter busi­nesses. The­Wa­ter Smart In­no­va­tion Con­fer­ence is held an­nu­ally in Las Ve­gas, Ne­vada, bring­ing to­gether con­ser­va­tion pro­fes­sion­als from around the world. These are ex­am­ples of how wa­ter con­ser­va­tion can be linked to eco­nomic vi­tal­ity.

Why should we care? The his­tory of New Mex­ico un­for­tu­nately is lit­tered with mass mi­gra­tion out of the state due to se­vere droughts. One doesn’t have to look any fur­ther than Santa Fe and the se­vere drought of a cou­ple of decades ago. At that time the City an­nounced that it was running out of wa­ter due to lack of sup­ply and the drought. That an­nounce­ment drove touris­m­away and hurt the home­build­ing in­dus­try, which took years to re­cover. Since then the city has be­come a leader in wa­ter con­ser­va­tion and has greatly di­ver­si­fied our wa­ter sup­ply.

Sowhat­would a strat­egy look like? It would mean our state and lo­cal eco­nomic-de­vel­op­ment ef­forts would tar­get peo­ple and busi­nesses in this in­dus­try. It­would mean we put in place pro­grams that high­light ex­ist­ing busi­nesses and at­tract new ones to our com­mu­nity and state. It­would mean we would have cen­ters of ex­cel­lence. It would mean we would part­ner with our lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions to make sure we’re train­ing in­di­vid­u­als in these fields, so com­pa­nies would have ready ac­cess to a lo­cal work­force. It­would mean we put pro­grams pro­mot­ing Santa Fe and New Mex­ico as the place to be!

Colorado State Univer­sity (CSU) is team­ing with the Na­tion­alWestern Com­plex for the OneWater So­lu­tions In­sti­tute, con­nect­ing world-class re­search with real-world so­lu­tions. The univer­sity plans to com­plete its wa­ter lab­o­ra­tory, which will be a wa­ter-re­use show­case, by 2021.

New Mex­ico could move into a lead­er­ship po­si­tion, re­sult­ing in new jobs and the abil­ity to pro­mote the state as hav­ing a sus­tain­able long-term wa­ter plan. Wa­ter is key to our sur­vival in this beau­ti­ful, but harsh state. We can lead, fol­low, or get out of the way. We need to grow lo­cal in­dus­tries to pro­vide good pay­ing jobs for our com­mu­ni­ties. Why not wa­ter, why not here?

Doug Pushard, founder of the web­site www.Har­vestH2o.com, has de­signed and in­stalled res­i­den­tial rain­wa­ter sys­tems for over a decade. He is a mem­ber of the Santa FeWater Con­ser­va­tion Com­mit­tee, a life­time mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Rain­wa­ter Catch­ment Sys­tems As­so­ci­a­tion, and an EPAWaterSense Part­ner. He can be reached at doug@Har­vestH2o.com.

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