Question 2: In your opinion, in this potential extreme drought year, are river flows through the City at risk of being terminated or should we strive to conserve more water?
We should always strive to conserve more water. Citizens are to be applauded; we have gone from 168 GPCD in 1995 to 87 GPCD in 2016. The City continuously strives to be innovative in water conservation, and I don’t believe that it is an either or choice. I am currently a co-sponsor of a resolution that provides incentives for voluntary gray water harvesting by means of an existing rebate program. The city has made a tremendous financial commitment to maintaining a living river. I believe that in a drought year, we should understand what volumes are necessary to maintain and preserve all of the hard work that resulted in those improvements.
Santa Fe is a leader in the state and nationally in water conservation. But we should not and cannot stop. The City and County should continue all efforts to encourage water conservation and lower our per person daily use. I have several ideas: First, the WER standard should allow roof top catchment systems to be used not just for outdoor landscaping and home gardens, but also for reuse inside our homes for things like flushing toilets. In addition, expanding the City rebate program to include gray water systems is a worthy idea. Second, we must be proactive, Santa Feans should continue to reduce per capita water consumption. There must be more public education on best practices. Third, we should also encourage the commercial sector to conserve water. Our economy and quality of life demand a reliable, secure, and high quality water supply. This is a key element of being a sustainable community. A flowing river will demonstrate our vitality.
As a community, we should always strive for conserving water, especially since we live in a high desert. As your City Councilor, I would make sure that saving water is a top priority. We have to look at different programs that consist of different approaches—such as water catchment, water saving appliances, and new technologies that could help recycle gray water in a home.
I think we are facing an extreme drought year and there is a high probability that the river flows are at risk of being terminated due to the limited runoff. The city will have to look at a target flow adjustment and go through each implementation stage.
Of course, we should strive to conserve more water, but unless our current weather pattern changes quickly we need to be prepared to reduce flows as per the administrative procedures described in the ordinance. In times of drought, we all must share the burden of the challenge. To be clear, no matter how much we conserve, the target-flow hydrograph is determined by snowpack—not the goodwill of the City of Santa Fe’s water customers.
In drought years we need to conserve more water for consumption. However, Santa Fe has among the best water security and water conservation in the state, and I’m very happy with the progress we continue making. We have achieved this level of success in part because of City ownership of the water company. I do not believe that the evidence shows that more very dry xeriscape landscaping is the answer. My first business in Santa Fe was a landscaping business, so I am familiar with the various means that can be used to ensure smart landscaping. If the environment becomes too dry with overuse of gravel, paving and rock and with the loss of outdoor water, the effect is to create a climate that produces less moisture, not more. Rather than being absorbed to stimulate plant growth, which again, creates shade and cooler temperatures, the water runs off into streets and gutters and is lost. We have seen these effects demonstrated in Phoenix, for example. The city must have an overall master plan for the environment that incorporates the latest research in water catchment and reuse and thinking about sustainable environment.
Yes, I do think depending on who gets elected that the river flow may be looked at as secondary to finding water resources for building more and more housing for people being recruited to come live in our city. Under an extreme drought year coupled with a continued push for urban expansion the excuses used to shut off and limit the flow of water in the river will be compounded. I don’t think our natural environment should remain compromised under any condition. Do we really believe if we take care of our river we will die of thirst? I don’t think so. The Santa Fe River is endangered and that does not sit well with me. There is no excuse for that. Again, I will work to keep a year-around water flow in the Santa Fe River and work to provide resources to maintain the river’s waterways in a healthy condition as a top priority.
*Note: These questions were submitted for distribution by the individual members of the Board of Directors of the Santa Fe Watershed Association. The questions and the resulting answers are posted as they were submitted and were not edited prior to this posting. The order of the responses in the survey, were in the order that they were received by us. The Santa Fe Watershed Association does not endorse any one candidate for any of the offices being contested. The information is deemed reliable but cannot be guaranteed