SF rocks, but more can be done
As we face an historically dry winter and spring, it’s good for us to remember just how farwe’ve come, especially in Santa Fe, when considering water conservation efforts by you, the resident, and the entire community.
In 1995, the water system that was acquired by the city that same year from Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), experienced the highest water use on record: 13,181 acre-feet. It’s estimated that the system served approximately 67,839 residents in 1995, so the per-person water use was nearly 168 gallons per day. When compared with the city’s 2017 total water use of 8,437 acre-feet and per-person use of 90 gallons per day, our conservation efforts have been amazing! Total water use has been cut by nearly 36 percent and average personal water use (gallons per capita daily or GPCD) by nearly 46 percent.
But hidden in these impressive numbers is perhaps the most amazing statistical realization. Not only did we, as a community, significantly lower our water usage, but we did it at the same time we were adding new members to our city. Since 1995, nearly 16,000 additional residents were added to the city’s water-customer base. These water conservation numbers would have been impressive had the population been static, but we cut the totalwater use bymore than a third while the population served by our water system grew by nearly 20 percent.
Santa Feans have proven that a community can grow and make room for new members, while we work together to conserve our precious water resources. A range of practices from prudent landscaping to low-water-flow household fixtures, to water only-on-request restaurant practices, have enabled us as a community to protect our water in reasonable ways. The City of Santa Fe’s residential rebate program and your participation in the replacement of washing machines and toilets to more efficient models also has added to this decrease in overall water use. In 2017, about 6.8 acre-feet of water was saved as a result of these replacements.
We should commend ourselves for undertaking the efforts needed for these accomplishments. But, we know that more conservation efforts are ahead of us, particularly during the remainder of 2018. As we move closer to the summer, we should continue to explore specific steps each of us can take at home, and at work, to reduce our use of New Mexico’s most precious natural resource.
With outdoor irrigation accounting for nearly 40 percent of Santa Fe’s water use, we encourage all of you to look at our new outdoor rebate program. Rebates for rainwater harvesting, graywater harvesting, and irrigation equipment will assist when looking at alternative sources for irrigation of our summer gardens. Applications can now be made online at www.savewatersantafe.com. But, for now: Well done, Santa Fe!!
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.