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?
Yes. When I brought forth the resolution calling for re-evaluating how we think of and treat stormwater, which led to the new planning effort, it was with the intention that we would no longer be looking at stormwater as a nuisance to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible, but rather as another important resource for the City, which we should slow down within the law and allow to percolate and recharge our aquifer. We should look at ways of incentivizing all residents and businesses in Santa Fe to participate in this process. The City is constructing multiple raingardens along the Santa Fe River to accomplish this. We should incentivize our residents and our businesses to do the same. Of course, we also have opportunities to work with our residents and our businesses, including commercial buildings, to capture rainwater and put it to use. Just last night at City Council we passed a measure to further incentivize rainwater harvesting, a follow-up measure to that I introduced on rainwater harvesting earlier. We need to treat the 1800 to 2200 acre feet of water that fall on our rooftops as an additional source of supply and ensure that we can all use its in our homes and businesses. This is what we at The Trust for Public Land accomplished in our design and construction of the Railyard Park.
I think that the most cost-effective way to deal with stormwater in areas of commercial development is to develop stomwater infrastructure through area and district level master plans, rather than applying general standards for all buildings.
We need to further institutionalize the onsite re-use of rainwater collection in residences and businesses beyond rain barrels. Acquifer storage through rainwater retention helps but certainly horizontal wells placed in subsoil below a retention basin is even better. Ideally, sisterns are for full retainage of stormwater and re-use but can be costly to install and maintain the pump system.
I support a policy of no net increase in storm water runoff for new commercial buildings and associated parking areas as well as any new buildings owned by the City. Ways to achieve this goal are short-term storm water retention, infiltration, and roof water harvesting.
To the extent allowed by state law, I support capturing stormwater runoff for use within the City of Santa Fe. Commercial buildings and the impermeable surfaces around them— like parking lots— are a significant source of stormwater, and we should incentivize desirable development. By implementing some fairly low cost diversions, we can provide benefits to a wide range of public spaces, parks, and landscaping, which in turn can provide shade to cool the increase in temperatures caused by the buildings and their associated impermeable surfaces. Incentivizing new commercial buildings to implement beneficial use of stormwater is a step in the right direction.
*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.