Question 1: What is your view of Santa Fe’s Target Flow for a Living River Ordinance passed in 2012 that provides for river flowers during spring runoff?
I support the Living River Ordinance and would like to find ways to expand such flows while continuing to manage the City’s water supplies in ways that best serve all the people of Santa Fe. This is one reason I have recently sponsored a measure to evaluate aquifer storage and recovery in the Santa Fe River, and to ensure minimization of water loss when meeting our legal obligations to the acequias on the Santa Fe River. I will be renewing an earlier measure, put on hold while settling some legal issues between the City of Santa Fe and the Office of the State Engineer, requesting that the OSE require meters on all of the wells in Santa Fe and delivery of water use information. Such wells, of which it is estimated that there are some 700 to 800, are effectively unmonitored and draw from the aquifer that has direct impact on the Santa Fe River.
I voted in favor of this ordinance when it was originally proposed for a number of reasons: I have always had a particular interest in Santa Fe’s city parks and children’s programs. Many of our parks are along the Santa Fe River and having water flowing in the river makes these parks much more attractive to park visitors (particularly on hot days!). As organizer of the Santa Fe Children’s fishing derby, I have seen kids’ excitement and enjoyment playing around an actual living river.
I also think that the flows stipulated by this ordinance contribute to maintaining the viability of traditional agriculture communities downstream and that these flows help to recharge the underground aquifer. For all of these reasons, I think that this ordinance is an outstanding example of how the City and community can work together to improve the quality of life for the people of Santa Fe in an environmentally sustainable manner.
The living river ordinance provides for up to 1000 ac-ft for living river flows depending on the annual water yield from high elevation snowpack in the upper watershed. The flows are administered under a target flow hydrograph to meet ecological and social outcomes. The flows are reduced proportionally when the yield is less than 75% and can be as low as 300 acre-ft. It can be reduced to zero under a water emergency as defined in the administrative procedures. Living river target flows are limited by inflow into McClure Reservoir. We must ensure water deliveries to the acequias which have senior water rights.
There are water management limitations that prevent the city from using the historic channel for living river flows over the currently used bypass channel. I support the seepage study underway by John Shoemaker and Associates (JSA) to evaluate channel efficiency and conveyance losses between both, the historic and bypass channels. We then need to budget and program funds in the city’s capital infrastructure plan to restore and upgrade the historic channel, We may also need to re-visit the Living River Ordinance depending on the seepage study by JSA. I support the health and vibrancy of the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve through continued living river bypass flows.
I support celebrating Santa Fe’s “living river.” I also appreciate all of the work it took for various people in this community to come together and agree on an ordinance that makes this a reality.
Let’s keep our river a Living River! The benefits are many from ecological and community perspectives. I understand that the formula for the flows was worked out after many meetings to gather and craft citizen input. We can maintain flows not just during the “spring runoff,” but with proper management, spread out over the summer and even into the fall. I support continuing to abide by the ordinance.
*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.