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 cy­

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