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Our planet contains a finite quantity of water. This water continuously cycles through the atmosphere and our environment, sustaining life for plants, animals, and our civilization. This natural cycle has existed for billions of years, with water moving between the land, ocean, rivers, and atmosphere and transforming between solid, liquid, and gas.
The urban water cycle refers to the methods people use to utilize the natural water cycle, such as collection systems and reservoirs, treatment plants, and distribution systems. After we use it to shower, wash dishes, and more, it is treated at a wastewater treatment plant before being returned to the natural cycle via rivers and other bodies of water.
Santa Fe's water sources include a mix of both local and imported groundwater and surface water. While the raw surface water we collect is relatively pristine, it is treated extensively at either the Canyon Road Water Treatment Plant or the Buckman Regional Water Treatment Plant before being distributed to the community. Groundwater from our local aquifers and wells is similarly pristine and is thoroughly disinfected before distribution. The drinking water produced by City of Santa Fe Water meets or exceeds all state and federal standards set by the EPA, generally as strict or stricter than those the FDA uses to regulate bottled water.
Keeping Our Water Safe
Water treatment can be likened to an industrial process, where a raw element (think steel or copper) is mined and put through different processes to transform it from its natural state, eventually becoming a polished product that communities can use. We pull raw, untreated water from a river to filter and clean it through various processes – or in the case of groundwater from our aquifers, simple disinfection – with the end product being the high-quality drinking water distributed to homes and businesses throughout Santa Fe.
To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prescribes standards and regulations that limit the number of certain contaminants in water provided by public drinking systems. The Safe Drinking Water Act ensures that the City has a water sampling and analysis process to detect contaminants that pose a known health risk. Any detection of contaminants is reported to the public and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). As noted in the most recent drinking water report, the City's drinking water meets all state and federal water quality standards.
Source Water Protection
As water travels over the land or percolates through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and can pick up contaminants from the presence of animals or human activity. Contaminants in drinking water may include microbial contaminants, inorganic contaminants, pesticides and herbicides, organic chemical contaminants, and radioactive contaminants. This makes protecting source waters (our aquifers, rivers, and other water bodies) from contaminants essential to water quality.
The NMED completed a Source Water Assessment for the City of Santa Fe to determine source water protection areas of concern and ranked our susceptibility as "moderately low." The NMED report concluded: "…City of Santa Fe water utility is well maintained and operated. The drinking water sources are generally protected from potential sources of contamination based on an evaluation of the available information."
The Environmental Compliance Office is responsible for protecting Santa Fe's source waters and ensuring that the City's drinking water meets or exceeds minimum water quality standards set by state and federal laws and regulations. We have created a draft Source Water Protection Plan and are looking for public input. Learn more about the plan and provide your feedback using the links below.
- Santa Fe Source Water Protection Story Map
- Source Water Protection Plan Public Comment Survey
- Source Water Protection Plan Public Meeting - Video Recording (Passcode: 5$Nxx01f )
Water Treatment Process
All drinking water produced by the City is treated at either the Canyon Road Water Treatment Plant (CRWTP) or the Buckman Regional Water Treatment Plant (BRWTP).
The CRWTP is a conventional treatment plant that treats Santa Fe River water. A conventional treatment process (or treatment train) includes the steps highlighted in the graphic above. Conventional treatment removes nearly all contaminants in drinking water.
The BRWTP is an advanced treatment plant that treats water from the Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD). Advanced processes come after conventional treatment (see graphic above) to provide highly effective removal of contaminants and particles. The BRWTP produces drinking water exceeding state and federal drinking water standards and removes 99.999 percent of sediment particles, pathogens, and contaminants.
Groundwater pulled from our local aquifers and wells is relatively pristine and does not require substantive treatment but is thoroughly disinfected before distribution.
Help Us Monitor Water Quality
The Environmental Compliance Office is looking for citizens who would like to participate in our Compliance Water Sampling Program by allowing us to take samples at your residence. A City employee would need year-round access to water from the front yard of your home via a spigot or frost-free hydrant. The water would be run for approximately 5 minutes once a month by a City employee. Please call 505-955-4333 if you have any questions or would like to sign up.
Water Quality Reports (CCR)
Every year City of Santa Fe Water publishes a drinking water report, also known as a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), that includes information on our drinking water quality. It includes information on water supply sources, EPA standards for safe contaminant levels, and levels of contaminants (if any). Last year the City's drinking water met all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New Mexico water quality standards.
You can download water quality reports from the last ten years below. For a CCR older than ten years, contact us at 505-955-4333 or firstname.lastname@example.org.