Santa Fe Gives The Colorado River System A Helping Hand

Santa Fe, NM has signed on to a multi-city commitment to reduce water demands and help protect the Colorado River system. The city draws its water supply from the Colorado River system, which is now drought-stricken.

“Climate change is real and it’s up to us to take responsible and urgent steps to address it,” Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber said in a press release. “We’re stepping up on water policy, in general, and water conservation, in particular.”

In a memorandum of understanding (MOU), Santa Fe – along with more than two dozen cities and water authorities in the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basin – has committed to the following five actions:

  • expand programs to increase indoor and outdoor water use efficiency;
  • introduce a program to reduce the quantity of non-functional turf grass by 30% through replacement with drought- and climate-resilient landscaping, while also maintaining urban landscapes and tree canopies;
  • increase water reuse and recycling programs where feasible, contingent on the dependability and security of the existing Colorado River supplies;
  • implement best practices and share lessons learned to help each other accelerate efficiency strategies; and
  • collaborate with other water users in the Colorado River basin to bring the supply and use of the river into balance.

Santa Fe authorities state that the city has already implemented many of the MOU requirements. In the last two years it has established a Bees, Trees and Water program and the TreeSmart Santa Fe program. A TreeSmart Giveaway pilot program is currently in place, and the Santa Fe Water Department has demonstration gardens and resources on waterwise and pollinator plant guides. The Parks Department has engaged in turf replacement programs and irrigation improvements which have greatly reduced water usage.