Water Rate Factors
What makes the City of Santa Fe's water rates different than those of others?
The City's approved water rate increase is considered proactive rather than reactive by following goals of the recently adopted Long Range Supply Plan
. The water rate increase provides for water system reliability and sustainability by adding a new water source to the City's water portfolio, installing transmission mains and rehabilitating existing water infrastructure. This is not always common, as has been reported in recent newspaper articles from around the state of New Mexico where many water systems struggle to keep up with the costs associated withe aging infrastructure.
Reliability, Redundancy and Sustainability:
The City's water rate increase provides reliability, redundancy and sustainability to the water source portfolio consisting of: Rio Grande Surface Water Treatment Plant (Buckman Direct Diversion
- BDD), Surface Water Reservoir Treatment Plant (Canyon Road WTP), 6 Shallow City Water Wells, and 14 Deep Buckman Water Wells for the City's water customers. The addition of the BDD project reduces groundwater use in the Buckman well field, thus maintaining groundwater production at sustainable levels and preserving the aquifer as a critical drought reserve. In contrast, other water systems often do not have multiple water sources available and rely on single sources (i.e, groundwater pumping via wells) resulting in a potential unreliable, non-redundant and unsustainable water source portfolio.
Numerous year round water conservation efforts have conserved water and reduced demand to approximately 101 gallons per capita per day. Focus areas have included, but are not limited to: low flow toilet retrofit program, low flow shower heads, rain barrel incentives, high-efficiency washing machine incentives, hot water recirculation systems, commercial air-cooled ice machines, and irrigation installation training programs. The City continues to analyze water conservation alternatives, considering additional or different strategies, new technologies and programs for reducing potable water demands. The City is the leader in water conservation in the Southwest while other water systems do not focus as much on water conservation and are able to keep rates lower due to the quantity of water sold.
Unique Water Infrastructure Requirements:
The City water service area has terrain changes in excess of 1,000 feet in elevation requiring a unique and complex pumping system to provide reliable and redundant water service. The water pumping system consists of shallow (<1,000 feet) City wells, deep (>2,000 feet) Buckman Wells, four (4) Buckman Well field Booster Stations and 13 miles of transmission main to move Buckman Water to the City water service area, four (4) pressure zone transfer booster stations, five (5) BDD Booster Stations and approximately 26 miles of transmission main to move BDD water to the treatment plant and to the City water service area. The City's surface water treatment plants (Canyon Road and BDD) require expensive treatment technologies (energy consumption, chemical addition, etc.) to provide for treatment of extremely variable reservoir and river water quality (turbidity, algal blooms, etc.) in order to treat the City's water in accordance with Federal Safe Drinking Water Act requirements. The City's water distribution system dates back to the 1880s and consists of ten (10) pressure zones (due to terrain) and approximately 610 miles of pipe, with portions of the system requiring upgrades to old pipes that have exceeded their useful life and undersized pipes requiring an increase in piping size to meet current fire flow standards. The cost for water system pumping, treatment upgrades, operation and maintenance are incorporated into the ten (10) year Finance Plan
that is the basis for the water rate increase.
Development/growth pays for its own water:
Changes to water rates are required for sustainability and not for development/growth. Development/growth is required to provide water rights and/or retrofits in the amount of 110% of the development water budget in order to offset the development/growth water usage, install all new water infrastructure (including required water main extensions), pay for Water Division administrative and engineering services and pay utility Expansion Charges (UECs) future required upgrades/expansions to existing water system components due to development/growth.
Water Rates are Rising
- English & Spanish (63KB PDF)
8.2% for a Sustainable Water Future
Financial Plan Executive Summary
Low Income Credit Program
Long Range Supply Plan
Buckman Direct Diversion Project
For more information about the 8.2% water rate increase, contact Utility Billing Customer Service at (505) 955-4333 or Brian Snyder at (505) 955-4267 Email or Maya Martinez at (505) 955-5731 Email
Updated December 15, 2009