Contact Information

Zoe Isaacson
River and Watershed Manager

Jimmie Gallegos
River and Watershed Stormwater Inspector

Stormwater Office

City of Santa Fe Stormwater Hotline


Stormwater Story Map

Click here to visit the Stormwater in the Santa Fe River Watershed Story Map brought to you by the Santa Fe River Commission and the City of Santa Fe.




Santa Fe's Living River

Green Stormwater Infrastructure: Reconnecting Stormwater To The Landscape

Runoff from stormwater continues to be a major cause of water pollution in urban areas. It carries trash, bacteria, heavy metals, and other pollutants through storm sewers into local waterways. Heavy rainstorms can cause flooding that damages property and infrastructure.

Historically, communities have used gray infrastructure—systems of gutters, pipes, and tunnels—to move stormwater away from where we live to treatment plants or straight to local water bodies. The gray infrastructure in many areas is aging, and its existing capacity to manage large volumes of stormwater is decreasing in areas across the country. To meet this challenge, many communities are installing green infrastructure systems to bolster their capacity to manage stormwater. By doing so, communities are becoming more resilient and achieving environmental, social, and economic benefits.

Green infrastructure filters and absorbs stormwater where it falls. In 2019, Congress enacted the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, which defines green infrastructure as "the range of measures that use plant or soil systems, permeable pavement or other permeable surfaces or substrates, stormwater harvest, and reuse, or landscaping to store, infiltrate, or evapotranspirate stormwater and reduce flows to sewer systems or to surface waters." 

Green infrastructure elements can be woven into a community at several scales. Examples at the urban scale could include a rain barrel up against a house, a row of trees along a major city street, or greening an alleyway. Neighborhood-scale green infrastructure could include acres of open park space outside a city center, planting rain gardens, or constructing a wetland near a residential housing complex. At the landscape or watershed scale, examples could include protecting large open natural spaces, riparian areas, wetlands, or greening steep hillsides. When green infrastructure systems are installed throughout a community, city, or across a regional watershed, they can provide cleaner air and water as well as a significant value for the community with flood protection, diverse habitats, and beautiful green spaces.

Click here to download the Alameda Raingradens Handout.

Click here to download Chapter_XIII_Stormwater_Utility.

The Santa Fe River Commission shall review and make recommendations to the Governing Body on matters related to the Santa Fe River and its watershed. To this end, the Santa Fe River Commission shall consult with City Staff, Santa Fe County, including Open Space and Trails staff, Cochiti Pueblo, acequia associations, other city committees, interested community groups, individuals, businesses, youth, and other governmental bodies that have responsibility for any aspect of the Santa Fe River or its watershed.

Powers and Duties

The Santa Fe River Commission shall advise the Governing Body with the aim of restoring the Santa Fe River to a living river and improving the health of the watershed as per the Santa Fe River Corridor Master Plan. In particular, the Santa Fe River Commission shall:

  1. Consult with City Staff and other interested parties regarding the implementation of Sections 5, 6, and 7 of Ordinance No. 2006-28 regarding the “Voluntary River Conservation Fund” (which may be alternatively referred to as the “Living River Fund”) and advise the Governing Body regarding the fund’s implementation and operation.

  2. Consult with City Staff, the Bicycle and Trails Advisory Committee (“BTAC”), and other interested parties regarding the establishment of a river trail within the Santa Fe River corridor where feasible and advise the Governing Body regarding such a trail.

  3. Consult with City Staff, the Bicycle and Trails Advisory Committee (“BTAC”), and other interested parties regarding the establishment of a river trail within the Santa Fe River corridor where feasible and advise the Governing Body regarding such a trail.

  4. Consult with City Staff and other interested parties regarding the expenditure of CIP funds, repayment of CIP funds by the Water Division, legislative funds, or other funds that may be directed to river or watershed projects, and advise the Governing Body regarding the expenditure of such funds.

  5. Consult with City Staff and other interested parties regarding education and outreach to the community for river and watershed issues (including the Living River Fund, environmental flow, stormwater management, use of treated effluent, wildland-urban interface management, the pending Army Corps of Engineers’ watershed study, and other issues that impact the River and its watershed) and advise the Governing Body regarding such issues.

  6. Consider and utilize river and watershed restoration as a means to involve Santa Fe’s youth in shaping the future of the River while providing workforce development and training opportunities for youth.


Target Flow Ordinance for a Living River     Target Flow Ordinance for a Living River en Español 

Living River Administrative Procedures     Living River Administrative Procedures en Español

Living River Target Flow Hydrograph

Stormwater Storymap

2024 Santa Fe River Commission Calendar

MS4 Permit Compliance

What is an MS4? What Is The Purpose Of Stormwater Management?

In compliance with the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act, the City of Santa Fe must obtain federal authorization to discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States via our storm sewer system. To qualify for the NPDES permits necessary to do so, we must implement a plan to reduce and control the pollutants that are carried into these waters. The River and Watershed Section implements the City of Santa Fe Stormwater Management Plan and ensures compliance with local, state, and federal regulatory requirements.

The Santa Fe Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit Program

Stormwater runoff is a leading source of surface water pollution. As stormwater runoff flows to the storm drain system, it flows over land and impervious surfaces, picking up pollutants left on the ground, such as oils, trash, and pet waste. This runoff flows into our arroyos and eventually into the Santa Fe River, which can significantly degrade water quality, thereby discouraging recreational use of the resource, contaminating drinking water supplies, and interfering with the habitat for fish, other aquatic organisms, and wildlife.

In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to restore and maintain the quality of the nation’s waterways. This Act aims to ensure that rivers and streams are fishable, swimmable, and drinkable. As part of the Clean Water Act, in 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit Program under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater program.

MS4 programs require permittees to implement a stormwater management program to control polluted stormwater discharges. The Phase I MS4 program affected urbanized areas, as defined by the US Census Bureau, with populations of 100,000 or greater. In 1999, EPA expanded the program to Phase II, which included urbanized areas with populations between 50,000 to 100,000. The current Phase II Permit was issued in 2007, and a new Permit is expected later this year. The Santa Fe urbanized area is covered under Phase II of the MS4 permit program, and the permittees include the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, and NM Department of Transportation District 5. Currently, these agencies meet regularly to collaborate and improve collective strategies for MS4 compliance.

Under the MS4 Permit, each permittee must develop and implement a comprehensive Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP). The SWWP currently consists of six program components known as minimum control measures (MCMs) that must be implemented.

  • Public Education & Outreach
  • Public Involvement/Participation
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control
  • Post-construction Storm Water Management
  • Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping

The SWMP includes pollution prevention measures, a stormwater ordinance, inspections and enforcement, and other methods to control the discharge of pollutants from stormwater to our waterways. The Santa Fe permittees are working cooperatively to meet the requirements of the MS4 Permit and to minimize the pollution our stormwater runoff contributes to our waterways.


City of Santa Fe Annual MS4 Report:

2022-2023 MS4 Annual Summary Report

2022-23 EPA Form

DRAFT 22-23 MS4 Form

DRAFT 2022-2023 sMS4 Annual Summary Report 8.30.23



Click here to view the 2024-2025 Santa Fe Living River Target Flow Hydrograph 


Click here for information about Two Mile Pond


Click Here to Donate to the Santa Fe River Fund.