SANTA FE – City officials in New Mexico have approved a proposed project to design and construct a $20 million pipeline that would funnel treated wastewater back into the Rio Grande River despite concerns from environmentalists and irrigators.
Santa Fe City Council voted 6-2 Wednesday approving the development of 40-year and 80-year water plans to maximize resources, including construction of the pipeline.
The water plan proposal comes after a 2015 study warned water sources in Santa Fe could be affected by long-term drought, wildfire contamination and climate change, officials said.
The proposed pipeline was discussed for years before it was added as an amendment to the water plan resolution last week, city officials said.
The pipeline is expected to take more water from the river than is allocated to the city under a water agreement, but return the excess amount to the river in the form of reused effluent, officials said. The wastewater is treated to meet federal standards, officials said.
The plan is intended to reduce the need to pump groundwater from the city’s wells and allow the aquifer to recharge, city officials said.
The pipeline could jeopardize the amount of water farmers have to irrigate their crops with, environmentalists and farmers said.