Question 3: Stormwater used to be treated as a necessary evil to be channeled on downstream. Now the City is developing a new stormwater plan, are there any standards for commercial buildings that you would like to see implemented in that plan?
I believe that all options for conservation of water should be examined and considered. If there is a legal pathway for commercial buildings to temporarily hold water (via cisterns) for the purpose of irrigation, I believe this can be a win for conservation and the environment.
I would like to see the commercial sector be a partner in a new storm water plan. Educating businesses about how we as a community handle storm water, is critical to having a high quality water supply, increasing ground water supplies, building wildlife habitat, and lowering the impact on city infrastructure — all of which are important to our economy and sustainability.
As your City Councilor, I would look at all options to reclaim water. Working with our commercial builders and technology companies, we should be able to come up with some ideas to capture and treat stormwater for watering vegetation. My vast experience working in the government sector and private sector has given me the skills to see a problem and bring all the parties together to come up with ideas that are good for all citizens of Santa Fe. I am the only one running for this seat that has this experience and the ability to work with all parties.
Most storm sewers don’t connect to a wastewater treatment plant, so untreated runoff carries pollutants directly to groundwater and rivers. The city needs to look at creating a stormwater permitting program including regulated construction and industrial stormwater discharges. Also, provide yearly inspections.
Fortunately, stormwater (including runoff from roofs, known as roofwater) is now seen as a resource. I would like to see all commercial parking lots directed to narrow infiltration basins associated with native plant material, and incentives should be provided for cistern systems associated with commercial roof-structures. For years, the City of Santa Fe has required “ponding” from which stormwater often evaporates. I would work to require and/or incentivize stormwater “infiltration” into the soil where it can support life and significantly reduce and/or eliminate potable water usages for plant material.
As the subtitle of Harvest the Rain (my book published by Sunstone Press) states, every storm should be seen as a resource. Every impervious surface on the planet—including the roofs and parking lots associated with commercial structures—has the potential to turn pollution into native, drought tolerant biodiversity. As the title of the book that I wrote with the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, Roof-Reliant Landscaping, implies, diverse native and drought tolerant landscape can be established and maintained using rainfall alone. Is there any other candidate for council who fully understands this concept? Who else knows how to get us there?
In addition to working with commercial and residential development, we can also work with existing homes, business, government buildings, and our entire infrastructure of streets and roads. Using curb cuts that allow water to be used before it enters our storm-drain system is a first step, but we should also look to recycled-glass products like Growstone (a porous aggregate resembling pumice) to assist us in subsurface root-watering projects on a grand scale.
As City Councilor, I would like to follow up on the stormwater toolkit provided to Santa Fe by the US EPA last January to see where it is implementation process right now and track its progress. It is a known fact that stormwater pollutants can negatively affect our wastewater and sewage systems.
There are direct links between land activities, rainfall-runoff, storm drains, and the river. I would like to see the plan contain educational outreach to the public teaching them the direct impacts we have on the stormwater that lands up in the river. Also, alert them about global warming and the environmental importance of maintaining a fully healthy and living river. The education programs must include clear guidance on steps and specific actions to be taken to reduce stormwater pollution-potential. I would also want to see a stormwater infrastructure that filters the water at major entry points along the river. Infiltration systems should also use sub-filtration along the way using permaculture methods.
*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