Question 6: How do you view the future of reclaimed wastewater in supplementing either directly or indirectly Santa Fe’s water supply? If the amount of treated wastewater discharged into the Santa Fe river is reduced, what impact to you anticipate on communities downstream of the City, and how can this impact be mitigated?
The City currently operates under the 2013 Reclaimed Water Resource Plan. I believe that there are options that would allow the city to continue to discharge into the Santa Fe river and potentially receive water rights offsets that can be used for well-water pumping from the Buckman well field. If water was to be directed to the Rio Grande, it could be done during the winter months to lessen the impact to downstream users.
Reclaimed wastewater will likely play a larger role as a component of Santa Fe’s water supply. The timing of releases may help mitigate impact. Working regionally is important.
Living rivers are the lifeblood of a community. By reducing the amount of water down the river, we will only cut off the opportunities for our neighbors. However, we have to make sure the water that we send down to other communities meet all the requirements of the Clean Water Act. Without running rivers, we lose that lifeblood.
Municipal wastewater contains a wide range of biological and chemical compounds with some being harmful to public health and ecosystems if not properly treated. With improved technology this could change our thoughts on wastewater. As for the reduction of wastewater this will highly impact the the communities downstream and their livelihood. The City could look at ways for it to benefit supplementing the water supply and the communities especially during a water shortage.
Reclaimed water definitely has a future in Santa Fe, and we will have to act with urgency, tenacity, and thoughtfulness to determine the best of the six or seven potential strategies described in the Santa Fe Basin Study published by the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, and the Bureau of Reclamation dated August 2015. According to the study, the likelihood of our running out of wet water before 2055 is extremely high if we do not act. Aquifer storage and recovery options abound with various strengths and weaknesses. If I am elected, a decision will be made and action will be taken toward ensuring that a significant amount of reclaimed water is part of the equation for fulfilling Santa Fe’s future water needs.
I worry about the communities downstream. We should provide discharges at flow levels that sustain the historic communities of La Cienega and La Cieneguita.
As with all of our water supply in Santa Fe, the City government and the water division need to use extreme care in how any of our water is used. If we need to reduce the amount of water going downstream it will definitely affect our downstream neighbors. We would need to carefully negotiate with those affected downstream and take into account their needs and their other sources of water.
Since early in history, people have dumped sewage into waterways, relying on natural purification by dilution and by natural bacterial breakdown. However, the Santa Fe River does not have the waterflow to dilute the wastewater and the bacterial breakdown is stunted due to the chemicals found in treated wastewater. I don’t want to drink reclaimed waste water. Waste water treatment plant effluent has the potential to reduce the natural variability that exists among river ecosystems and may contribute to biotic homogenization. Why chemically contaminate our water more before we drink it? The Rio Grande has more ability to naturally dilute and purify waste water than we can do by chemically treating it. What I want to work for, without compromise, is having a natural year-around river flow from its natural water way. When the river water meets the treatment plant point of discharge it will help dilute the released waste water easing the pollution downstream.
*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