Lack of snowfall definitely a concern
My email inbox fills up every day with news on water. I have a stack of articles forwarded to me by staff or colleagues on the current state of the Southwest water supply as it is relates to current weather conditions. I am forwarded webinar invites on topics dealing with drought, climate change, regionalization, and aging water infrastructure on a daily basis from a variety of large water organizations such as the U. S. Water Alliance, the Alliance forWater Efficiency, and the American Water WorksAssociation. I am totally overwhelmed with the amount of information circulating on the grave concern over our lack of snowfall and winter conditions that support surface water supply in the American Southwest, in our state and even our city.
The research and trends are clear that this winter is unusual, but we all know that it has been on the decline formany years now. Winter is different here in Santa Fe fromhowwe remember it even five years ago. It is dry and toowarmand the lack of snow/moisture has become very concerning to many of us.
The City of Santa Fe gets its drinking water from three different sources: surface water fromthe Santa Fe River and the Rio Grande, groundwater from two different city well fields, and the McClure and Nichols reservoirs, which collect runoff from snowmelt in the Santa FeWatershed. Approximately 80-90 percent of our drinkingwater currently comes from surface-water sources that are highly dependent on seasonal snowpack and runoff conditions. Water planners track this data carefully as it dictates how they will manage the water resources to prepare for the high-demand season in the summer months when people start to use the most water. If conditions like this continue, the high-demand season may start significantly earlier as people start to put back well-needed moisture into their soils, trees, and other landscape plants.
City residents have already done an amazing job conserving water, but as the lack of moisture becomes more evident, morewater will naturally be used. The issues of adequate water supplies in times of drought falls on the responsibility of many people. Beyond policy makers, water planners, and engineers, part of that responsibility falls on each of us. It is clear that we need to reconsider how we’ve usedwater in the past. With newtechnologies and resources to capture rainwater in our yards, the utilization of gray water from our homes, the installation of efficient appliances and fixtures, installation of efficient irrigation systems, and changing behavior in our homes and businesses to discourage any waste, we have many options to turn to when trying to uncover newways to do more by using less of the resource. From each otherwe can continue to learn and model new approaches and try to influence others through that behavior to collectively continue to make great strides in water conservation here in Santa Fe, despite the challenges we face.
Christine Y. Chavez has a background in water rights administration and energy and water conservation program management in the state ofNewMexico. She is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a B.S. in environmental science and an M.S. in biology. Christine is the water conservation manager for the City of Santa Fe. She may be reached at 505.955.4219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.