Our transition into fall brings new movement for the City’s Water Conservation Program. With the onset of the school year, all of our education programs begin. We have our 17th annual Water Fiesta at the end of the month. This is a two-day event at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center where approximately 650 4th-grade students rotate through a series of water-related activities given by volunteering organizations such as Sandia National Labs, the Audubon Society, the Office of the State Engineer, the Museum of Natural History, and the city's Buckman Direct Diversion Project and Canyon Road Water Treatment Plant.

The Water Fiesta also kicks off our annual passport program with select schools starting off their journeys as VIP guests, followed by a field trip to the Buckman Direct Diversion Project, in-class presentations on recycling and the energy-water nexus and finally a trip to the Wastewater Treatment Plant at the end of the school year.

We’ve also started our work with the Santa Fe Watershed Program and are collaborating on its “My Water, My Watershed” program with watershed tours for 5th-grade students. We’ve got three core teams we’re working with at Monte del Sol, Santa Fe High, and Capital High to build peer presentation teams and for different public announcement projects promoting sustainability efforts in the community.

Another exciting project for us right now is the final write-up of our 5-year water conservation plan. Earlier this year we engaged with the public in a series of meetings and through our website to collect public input prior to us writing the plan. We had over 2,000 pieces of input to work with, resulting in a big challenge to develop a public input matrix that would allow us to see if the programs we chose aligned with ideas the public had. Similarly, we wanted to survey relevant city plans to see where we could find our alignment.

Our hope is to develop programs that are already in line with what other departments have identified and budgeted for. The City’s Water Conservation Committee has formed a small group to work with us on the goal section of the plan which will be the most important to the office. A 5-year scorecard will be developed with 5-year goals and then an annual scorecard will be developed for the first year with the specific goals/performance indicators and measurement. Prior to the 2021 scorecard development, we will share our progress on our website, ask the public for input on that progress and do another short round of input meetings. The idea is to constantly align and re-align ourselves with our community to develop goals that we all agree on for saving water.

Keep an eye on our progress on our website www.savewatersantafe.com and thanks to all of you again who helped in our process.

Christine Y. Chavez has a background in water rights administration and energy and water conservation program management in the state of New Mexico. She is a graduate of New Mexico State University with a B.S. in environmental science and an M.S. in biology. Christine is the Water Conservation Manager for the City of Santa Fe. She may be reached at 505.955.4219 or cychavez@santafenm.gov.

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