SANTA FE – The City Council on Wednesday approved a resolution by a 6-2 vote directing city staff to develop and propose 40- and 80-year water plans in an effort to maximize the city’s water resources, including the design and construction of a $20 million pipeline.
The proposed pipeline, referred to as the Buckman Return, has been discussed for decades, but wasn’t added as an amendment to the water plan resolution until a week ago. That raised concerns from environmentalists and farmers worried that the plan would result in less water flowing down the Santa Fe River, potentially jeopardizing the amount of water that farmers living on county land could use to irrigate their crops.
The water plan proposal comes in the wake of a 2015 study that warned that the city’s water sources are susceptible to the effects of long-term drought, wildfire contamination and climate change.
The pipeline would run 11 miles between the Buckman Direct Division on the Rio Grande to a wastewater treatment plant. The idea behind it is to take more water from the river than is allocated to the city under the San Juan-Chama water agreement, but return the excess amount to the river in the form of reused effluent. City officials say that would reduce the need to pump groundwater from the city’s wells, allowing the aquifer to recharge.