Like the City Well Field, the Buckman Well Field is a small but essential part of our water supply. The Buckman Well Field is comprised of 13 wells located near the Rio Grande at the historic Buckman townsite, pumping water from an aquifer approximately 15 miles northwest of Santa Fe. These wells are outside the Santa Fe River Watershed and provide approximately seven percent of our drinking water supply. Pumping of the Buckman Well Field impacts the Rio Grande, meaning Santa Fe must have water rights or offsets in the Rio Grande and nearby tributaries. Keep reading to learn why this is an important part of our long-term supply management strategy.
The City Well Field was drilled during a drought in the 1950s to provide an additional water source and increase supply. Another significant drought period in the 1970s necessitated the drilling of the Buckman Well Field. Santa Fe continued to rely heavily on groundwater through this period—with most of our water supply coming from the Buckman Well Field—causing water levels in the wells to decline until the Buckman Direct Diversion came online in 2011. The aquifer that the Buckman Wells pull from is very deep and produces high-quality water.
Long-Term Aquifer Management
In 2011, the Buckman Direct Diversion began operating, conveying surface water to Santa Fe from the Colorado River via importation to the Rio Grande – greatly expanding our surface water supply. This allowed us to strategically prioritize using surface water when available to preserve groundwater for when it’s not. Switching to surface water as our primary source of supply, coupled with a steady reduction in demand, has allowed our groundwater aquifers to recover from overuse so that they can sustain us in the event of drought or other supply interruptions.
We continue to monitor both the quantity and quality of our groundwater carefully. Monitoring has improved with the creation of a Wellhead Protection Plan and a Source Water Protection Plan. Both plans evaluate our water supply’s vulnerability to contaminants and include hydrologic and hydrogeologic assessments of the municipal watershed and the Buckman Well Field.
Water Level Monitoring Reports
As part of the permit requirement for the Buckman Well Field (OSE permit RG-20516), the City of Santa Fe is required to conduct groundwater level monitoring in the vicinity of the Buckman Well Field. These monitoring reports summarize the effects pumping Buckman Wells 10-13 has on senior wells in the area.
Click Here to view the Buckman Wells Water Level Monitoring Program.