SF rocks, but more can be done

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - WATERMATTERS - CHRISTINE Y. CHAVEZ

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 cy­chavez@santafenm.gov.

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