La Cienega Valley Association

Protecting and preserving our acequia culture and agricultural traditions…

Water Committee Notes – January 13, 2014

From the January 13 meeting …

Water Monitoring Plan

The Comprehensive Water Monitoring Plan is the result of series of discussions and meetings with New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (BGMR) (Stacy Timmons and Peggy Johnson), Santa Fe County (Karen Torres) and LCVA Water Committee representatives (Acequia de La Cienega, El Guicu Ditch Association, La Cienega Mutual Domestic Water Association). It is guided by resident Kyle Harwood. Kyle has consulted on these topics with both BGMR and Office of the State Engineer (OSE).

The purpose of the Water Monitoring Plan is to provide both scientifically and legally defensible data and information on the status of, and changes in, the aquifer that feeds our area’s springs, ponds, sumps and other water sources. At present there is limited water monitoring at five sites in the community but BGMR has identified over 50 geologically strategic sites that will be considered as locations for monitoring equipment. Static, not-in-use, wells provide the most accurate information but monitoring equipment in active in-use wells will provide valuable information for the ongoing study.

LCVA Water Committee will begin the water monitoring process by identifying owners of wells and requesting their involvement in the monitoring plan. The next step will be the installation of the monitoring equipment and addressing the cost of the monitoring equipment and its installation. The intent is to raise money to cover the expense of the monitoring plan for both installation and ongoing monitoring with no cost to residents willing to participate in the project. The monitoring protocol will be established by BGMR, County of Santa Fe and other recognized water experts and authorities. The protocol will include a long-term commitment to sustain the water monitoring plan over time. Other important elements are how the information will be analyzed, where the data will be stored and how it will be accessed.

JJ Gonzales volunteered to work with County records to identify all of the landowners with wells that have been identified by BGMR. Carl Dickens committed to researching the cost of retrofitting wells with the monitoring equipment which will include pulling wells. Kyle is going to put together a one-page information sheet on the purpose and objectives of the Water Monitoring Plan. Environmental programs and students from the Community College were suggested as possible resources for in-field collection of monitoring data.

It was agreed that the Water Monitoring Plan has to be a community wide effort with a demonstrated monetary commitment from residents, property owners, businesses, acequias and other recognized community entities, associations and organizations. It was noted El Rancho de las Golondrinas is considering a sizeable contribution to assist in funding the Water Monitoring Plan. Raising money locally is planned to enhance our community’s ability to raise funds from other outside sources.

Once established this monitoring program should serve our community for the next 100 years.

The water monitoring area boundaries are proposed to be and include Eldorado, Galisteo, Hageman Well and the Community College District in addition to our community. It is now believed that Eldorado water use may have a more significant impact on our water sources then previously understood.

Water Modeling

Water modeling is used by OSE to identify and scientifically measure impacts to water sources in a specific area. The problem facing our community is water modeling utilized in the Santa Fe River Basin is based on 1 mile 3-dimensional cubes which is dated technology and because of its broad scope the modeling does not pick up the unique water geologic features of our area. This “old” modeling is described as trying to see something through broken binoculars.

Current technology that utilizes 100 meter 3-dimensional cubes (which provide much better and more detailed information) are in use throughout the state. Our community challenge in water modeling is convincing OSE to make the Santa Fe Basin a priority for the “state-of-the-art” water modeling to provide accurate information on impacts and effects on our area water sources.

OSE may be able to create the 100 meter models with existing data but it will require concentrated work by OSE and a prescribed commitment to a certain date of completion. OSE has initially indicated it could take up to a year to create the model but LCVA Water Committee feels it can be done sooner if made a priority. If OSE does not possess the necessary information, the cost of gathering and documenting the required data could approach $500,000 and would require a legislative appropriation or a federal government grant or allocation.

It was agreed that engaging County Commissioner Robert Anaya and our state representatives and senators is essential in convincing OSE to employ the updated technology. We will contact and provide information to Senator Griego, Representative Trujillo, Representative Garcia Richard, Representative Egolf, Senator Wirth and others. Unless funding is required, this effort will not require any special legislative appropriation or funding.

Other Pertinent Information

Since the State Penetentiary stopped using their wells and went on to the county’s water system there has been a measured rise in the water table indicated by the Pen’s monitoring equipment.

There are over 8,000 residential wells in Santa Fe County, a number of which are within the city of Santa Fe’s boundaries.

Actions for LCVA Water Committee

  • JJ to research property owners of wells identified by BGMR.
  • Kyle to put together one-page white paper of purpose and goal of monitoring program.
  • Carl to research cost of retrofitting wells with monitoring equipment.
  • Need to develop strategy for working with OSE to improve water modeling for the Santa Fe River Basin.
  • LCVA to report on work of Water Committee in the LCVA newsletter.