Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
New Citizens’ Group Urges City to Restore Its Commitment to Living Santa Fe River
“The City of Santa Fe has a great opportunity to be the leader in New Mexico when it comes to protecting living rivers,” said Galen Hecht, Rio Grande Campaigner at WildEarth Guardians. “We hope to work with the City to make the living river vision an ongoing reality that benefits our community long-term.”
The City passed its Living River Ordinance in 2012 memorializing the pledge of the community and its government officials to protect flows in the Santa Fe River and ensure that it fostered a flowing healthy river ecosystem. The ordinance recognized the river as a key feature upon which the city was built and dedicated up to 1,000 acre-feet of water to flow through the Santa Fe River each year. An acre-foot is equivalent to 325,851 gallons and is enough to supply water to a family for four for one year. The group is concerned that the City is not fulfilling the commitments it made in the ordinance both in terms of letting water flow through the historic upper channel and releasing flood pulses in the spring and late summer.
Additionally, the Coalition calls on the city to allow public participation in its future water planning. The City is developing plans to build a pipeline that will send wastewater effluent to the Rio Grande for return flow credits in order to consume and divert more water. The impacts of the plan are not fully understood and could negatively impact water quality and result in less water flowing in both the Santa Fe River and the Rio Grande. The group is requesting that the City provide an inclusive public process to aid in informing decisions about future water supply and work to undertake joint planning with County.
“Important decisions are pending regarding our future water supply and the vital upper Santa Fe river channel,” commented Teresa Seamster, Chair of Northern New Mexico Sierra Club. “We request that the City empanel a Water Advisory group, with technical, engineering, ecological, legal, and public interests. We would like to see it meet in public over a period of a year or more, and have the ability to get additional studies as needed.”
The Ad Hoc Coalition for a Living Santa Fe River is made up of a number of concerned citizens and the following organizations: Audubon New Mexico, the Canyon Neighborhood Association, Conservation Votes of New Mexico, Northern New Mexico Sierra Club, Rio Grande Waterkeeper, River Source, the Santa Fe Watershed Association, The Nature Conservancy, and WildEarth Guardians. For more information or to contact the Ad Hoc Coalition for a Living Santa Fe River, please email SantaFeLivingRiver@gmail.com.