Reclamation study spotlights shortfalls in Santa Fe Basin water supply

The Bureau of Reclamation has released a study of the Santa Fe Basin that found the water supply for the city -- absent of newly implemented strategies -- is not adequate to meet future demands even without the influence of climate change.

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 10, 2015 -- Today, the Bureau of Reclamation released a study of the Santa Fe Basin that found the water supply for the city -- absent of newly implemented strategies -- is not adequate to meet future demands even without the influence of climate change. The research identifies shortages in the water supply and potential adaptation strategies to meet the water needs described in the basin's 40-year water demand projections.

The area's population is expected to increase about 80 percent by 2055 and, unless action is taken, would be expected to result in a shortfall of about 5,155 acre-feet of water per year -- the amount of water that provides for more than 20,000 people. When different climate change scenarios were incorporated into the study, water shortfalls of between 6,342 acre-feet to 9,323 acre-feet per year were projected.

"Basin Studies provide important information on projected water supplies and demands so water managers can develop strategies to meet the water needs of their residents," Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López said. "Working collaboratively is the most effective way to manage water resources, and the city and county of Santa Fe will benefit from the results of this study."

Reliability of the San Juan-Chama Project was also studied under various climate change scenarios. The study found that projected flows within the project would decrease by 25 percent overall. Flows would decrease in the summer but would increase in the spring. Storage in Heron Reservoir is projected to be reduced, and sufficient water for a full allocation to contractors will be available less frequently.

Developing strategies to adapt to expected changes in water supplies is another important component of the Santa Fe Basin Study and included input from the public, the city of Santa Fe and the county of Santa Fe. The portfolio of items selected to study further include the use of reclaimed water, water conservation, direct injection, and infiltration for aquifer storage and recovery, and obtaining additional water rights.

Reclamation, the city of Santa Fe and the county of Santa Fe, which co-funded the study, developed the Santa Fe Basin Study. The basin includes the upper Rio Grande watershed, tributaries within the San Juan River watershed, a portion of water delivered to Santa Fe through Reclamation's San Juan-Chama Project, and groundwater aquifers of the Santa Fe area. The basin includes the city of Santa Fe, the main municipality in the watershed, and the northern portion of Santa Fe County.

See also:

"Reclamation awards $1.49M for nine desalination, water purification research projects"

"Reclamation to invest $50M for water savings in West; WaterReuse applauds efforts"

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