City of Santa Fe Water Division Update

 March 21, 2014

 City of Santa Fe Water Division Update

The City of Santa Fe Water Division is currently managing the reservoir releases of surface water out of McClure Reservoir to keep the reservoir at acceptable storage levels, prepare for spring runoff, and avoid abnormally high elevations of stored water over extended periods of time. These reservoir management releases to the Santa Fe River will help improve the quality of the raw water supply for the Canyon Road Water Treatment Plant by mobilizing accumulated sediment and debris in the river channel above the water treatment plant intake; allow future snowmelt and spring runoff to be captured for our drinking water supply; and safely allow future drawdown of the volume of water within McClure Reservoir to allow for the intake tower reconstruction scheduled in September of 2014. These actions by the Water Division continue the commitment to maximize the availability of a reliable supply of drinking water to its customers, while fulfilling prior obligations to irrigators and a Living Santa Fe River.

“The water storage level of McClure Reservoir is approaching 78% of total storage capacity,” said Alex Puglisi, Interim Source of Supply Manager. “We are currently experiencing one of the longest periods of time that the water storage level of McClure Reservoir has been near, or above, 80% of total storage capacity since the construction of the reservoir in 1926. Maintaining these levels with the probability of increased inflows due to spring snowmelt and the record-breaking precipitation events that we experienced last Summer and Fall would not be in the City’s best interest. One precipitation event during Fall 2013 raised McClure’s storage levels by 21% of total reservoir storage volume. If you do the math, the result is not a good place to be in terms of dam safety or the preservation of our water supply.”

At this point, these storage levels are more a function of current dam rehabilitation activities at our downstream Nichols reservoir than any other factor such as snow accumulation in the watershed or precipitation.

Much of the reservoir management releases of approximately 5 million gallons, or 8 cubic feet per second, from McClure Reservoir will be treated for drinking water with some bypass flows continuing into the Santa Fe River channel below Nichols Reservoir – the majority of which will be utilized by the Acequia Madre. City of Santa Fe residents and visitors will eventually see a steady flow of water in the river this spring, as planned target flows under the City’s Living River Ordinance occur from mid-April through June following a normalized hydrologic curve approximating local patterns of snowmelt and spring runoff flows. These flows will increase through mid-May, peaking in late May, and eventually decrease in June and throughout the remaining summer months except for periodic increases due to expected monsoonal season runoff. The Water Division is committed to the beneficial use of any released water to the maximum extent practicable until McClure reservoir is completely empty for planned dam renovations starting September 1, 2014. The Water Division posts and updates the reservoir water storage levels on the City’s new website at