Santa Fe prepared to use ground water for summer demand

Posted at: 07/01/2013 10:55 AM

SANTA FE – The City of Santa Fe Water Division is prepared to tap into more groundwater to meet this summer's water use demand.

As the Rio Grande and upper Santa Fe River surface water levels decrease, the municipal water system can switch from relying on surface water for daily water use and rely more on wells that draw groundwater from the aquifer.

Groundwater is pumped as needed to supplement surface water supplies.

"Using more groundwater when surface water is less available has always been the plan," said Rick Carpenter, city water resource and conservation manager. "By resting the aquifer over the last four years, we've stretched the available groundwater supplies, which we can turn to in this third year of drought."

Year-round water restrictions also play an important part in the city's water resource planning. Some restrictions include limiting outdoor watering to three days a week between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., limiting vehicle washing at residences to once per month and prohibiting water from landscape irrigation to flow onto hard surfaces or neighboring properties.

"Most Santa Feans are water warriors, using an average of 59 gallons per person per day, less than most in the Southwest," said Laurie Trevizo, city water conservation manager.

Currently, the city's water demand is being met by water system supply. However, if this situation changes, the city council can declare emergency water restrictions and invoke the Emergency Water Management Plan in two stages – water warning orange and water crisis red – with restrictions that increase with the level of the emergency.

Water Warning Orange begins when the water system can only supply 80 percent to 99 percent of operational water demand. Water Crisis Red begins when our water system can supply less than 80 percent of demand. In Water Crisis Red, nearly all outdoor irrigation using potable (drinking water) is prohibited. Gray water use is not restricted. (See Sidebar for Restrictions).

To find out more about the city's plans for handling drought, visit