SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Santa Fe has signed on to a multi-city commitment to conserve more water. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (BCWUA) is also on board better conserve one of the state’s most precious resources.
“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 Thursday. “We’re stepping up on water policy, in general, and water conservation, in particular.”
Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and in fact all New Mexicans are reliant on a limited supply of water in New Mexico. Last year, a KRQE News 13 investigation revealed that there’s likely not enough water for everyone in New Mexico – if users keep drawing on the resource while climate change makes access less reliable.
That’s why more than two dozen cities and water authorities have come together to commit to stepping up their game. In a memorandum of understanding, the cities have committed to these five items:
- 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 maintaining vital urban landscapes and tree canopies that benefit our communities, wildlife, and the environment
- Increase water reuse and recycling programs where feasible, contingent on the dependability and security of our existing Colorado River supplies essential to support these efforts.
- Implement best practices and sharing lessons learned to help one another accelerate efficiency strategies.
- Collaborate with other water users in the Colorado River basin to bring the supply and use of the river into balance
Water access, of course, isn’t a New Mexico-specific problem. And the entities signed on to the agreement come from multiple states. Some include the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Scottsdale Water, San Diego County water, and others.
Here in New Mexico, Albuquerque’s water provider (ABCWUA) has been working on reducing water use in the city for decades. Carlos Bustos, the water conservation program manager at ABCWUA, previously told KRQE News 13 that changing watering habits at city parks, for example, has saved hundreds of gallons of water in the last five years. Still, large commercial and industrial customers can easily use tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of gallons per year, public records reveal.
Santa Fe also has been working towards conservation. The City of Santa Fe says they’ve cut per capita average water use in half since 1995. Moving forward with the multi-agency agreement, they say they’re looking to refine and enhance existing programs.