The Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) is proud to announce the receipt of the Catalina Muniz Best Practice Utilities Award during the New Mexico Infrastructure Finance Conference (NMIFC). This award highlights innovative solutions implemented to address future challenges and manage resources that affect the watershed, affect regional partners, and allow for preparation of possible utility emergency situations.

NMIFC BDD awards recipients-cropped

The NM Infrastructure Finance Conference recognized Buckman Direct Diversion for resilient and sustainable operations practices for the recent construction of a 1.5 megawatt solar array which will reduce the plant’s electric costs.

City Councilor Joseph Maestas, BDD Chairman stated, “The Buckman Direct Division board’s vision for energy and water efficient practices to reduce our carbon footprint and operational costs will benefit our partners and the community well into the future. BDD strives to be a leader in sustainable technology with fuel-free, renewable solar energy, and we’re proud to be recognized by the New Mexico Environment Department’s Infrastructure Finance team for Utilities Best Practices.”

Receiving the award on behalf of BDD were Commissioner Liz Stefanics, BDD Board Vice-Chair and Nick Schiavo, Public Utilities Director.

This new solar array will provide 30 percent of the energy required to pump water from the Rio Grande River 11 miles and 1,100 feet uphill to the BDD water treatment plant. The combined energy savings of the BDD’s two solar arrays will reduce the BDD’s annual bill by approximately $400,000.

The 4608 high efficiency SunPower solar panels located in the new array reduce the required site footprint by 30%. Positive Energy Solar nominated BDD for this prestigious award. Positive Energy and Bradbury-Stamm Construction were the contractors for the project.

The BDD Board of Directors approved budget for the new solar array in 2012. The construction began in January 2014 with completion in June under the management of Rick Carpenter, BDD Project Manager.

Solar section The Buckman Direct Diversion 2A Solar Field
The Buckman Direct Diversion 2A Solar Fields

NMIFC BDD Award Maestas Speak NMIFC Plaque crop NMIFC SJ BRP Award


October 8, 2014

20140702_202332 Twin Sed Tanks Rio Diversion morning fog mist

Rio Diversion morning light 20140702_202128

Rio Grande clearer ATF clouds 2 ATF clouds 3 ATF clouds 1
The Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) is proud to announce the hiring of Charles Vokes as the new BDD facility manager. Mr. Vokes starts October 6 at Buckman Direct Diversion Regional Water Treatment Plant and comes to us from Arlington, Texas.
Chuck Vokes

Charles has relocated to Santa Fe to oversee a total of 34 positions, and our 15 million gallons per day (MGD) advanced surface water treatment facility that serves both City and County residents. The BDD is a joint venture facility, owned by the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County and Las Campanas, that was created to divert, treat and deliver San Juan Chama and Native waters from the Rio Grande.

The BDD has provided between 60-100% of the City and County’s water supply this summer. The percentage supplied is based on varying well and reservoir availability, which affects up to 70,000 City residents, and the southern portion of the 147,500 Santa Fe County residents. BDD Board Chairman Joseph Maestas excitedly remarked, “On behalf of the BDD Board, I welcome Charles and his family as new members of our community, and Charles as the new leader of our BDD Team. I am excited about the great experience and qualifications that Charles brings to our facility. I look forward to working with him to continue providing the highest levels of BDD facility management and high quality drinking water.”

Mr. Vokes served Arlington Water Utilities for 28 years and the last 4 years as the Assistant Director (AD) of Utilities. As the AD, he was responsible for the direction of three sections: Water Treatment, Laboratory Services and Water Resource Services. The Treatment Facilities included 3 surface water plants with a combined capacity of over 200 MGD using advanced processes including ozonation and biological filtration. His experience is a valuable addition to the BDD’s advanced treatment processes utilizing ozonation and micron membrane and granular activated carbon filtration.

Charles stated, “Accepting this position at the Buckman Direct Diversion in Santa Fe will allow me to work in my chosen field for an organization which is known as one of the best. I look forward to working with the existing and future staff member to continue tradition of excellence.”

Mr. Vokes graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in Biological Sciences and began his career with Arlington Water Utilities as their Senior Biologist. Over the next 28 years, he served Arlington as Lab Manager, Water Treatment Manager and Assistant Director. He has held additional positions as a Training Specialist for the City of Fort Worth, the Texas Regional Manager for U.S. Water Services Corporation and Water Superintendent for the City of Cleburne. His specialty in water quality issues gained recognition through his publication titled, “Impact of Ozone and Biological Filtration on Water Quality Parameters in Arlington, Texas”. Charles is married, has 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. He enjoys golf, tennis, snow skiing and fishing, so our Santa Fe and New Mexico summer and winter recreational opportunities will be right in par with his weekend goals.

Buckman Direct Diversion Receives NPDES Permit Renewal

The Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) is proud to announce that we have received renewal of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for another 5 years through the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, with certification from the New Mexico Environment Department, Surface Water Quality Bureau (NMED SWQB). This permit was originally issued October 24, 2008. The renewed permit is effective September 1, 2014.

As part of our water treatment processes, the BDD operates the Sediment Removal Facility that removes the large particle sediment from the Rio Grande raw river water. The NPDES permit regulates sediment that is removed from the raw water and is returned to the Rio Grande. This sediment removal process is the physical removal of large sand particles and does not include any chemical additional to the discharged water.

Since the start of BDD operation in January 2011, the Buckman Direct Diversion has remained committed to providing the highest level of safe drinking water while minimizing the impact to the environment. The BDD continues to participate in full compliance with all Federal and State requirements.

A copy of the BDD NPDES Permit can be viewed and downloaded at:

For more information or questions about this permit, please contact Daniela Bowman, BDD Regulatory Compliance Officer at or 505-955-4504.

Councilor & BDDB President cuts the ribbon

The Buckman Direct Diversion 2A Solar Project ribbon cutting drew a nice size crowd at the Booster Station site the sunny afternoon of June 19th.

Chairman Maestas was pleased to see such a good turnout for this important celebration recognizing another landmark green effort at BDD. Chairman Maestas gave kudos to the staff, and the BDD Board for their insightful decision to continue to use renewable energy practices to provide clean surface drinking water for the residents of Santa Fe City and County at a substantial cost savings.

Councilor Maestas welcomes guests to the ribbon cutting

Councilor Maestas welcomes guests to the ribbon cutting

Rick Carpenter was the project manager for the solar project and coordinated efforts between Positive Energy Solar, NM Finance Authority, Bradbury Stamm Construction, and Smith Engineering in addition to a variety of subcontractors.

Rick welcomed the guests then introduced City Councilor and Chairman of the BDD Board, Joseph Maestas, who in turn acknowledged dignitaries for the State, City, County, and contractors involved on the project.

Speakers present were Senator Tom Udall’s representative Matt Miller, Senator Peter Wirth, NM Finance Authority’s Robert Colter, Positive Energy Solar’s Regina Wheeler, Jim Spinello of Smith Engineering and Cynthia Schultz of Bradbury Stamm Construction.

Senator Peter Wirth gave first hand testimony on the positive benefits of using solar to supplement facility energy cost-cutting measures and stated how he was impressed with his tour of the Buckman Direct Diversion plant’s advanced operations.

Matt Miller from Senator Tom Udall’s office read a letter from the Senator applauding our concerted efforts to continue our renewable energy efforts. He stated, “The BDD is setting an example for the entire country, as the two solar arrays continue to play such a large part in getting this most precious natural resource to everyone in Santa Fe County.” View Letter from Sen. Udall: Udall-letter-2014.pdf

The gate entrance to the solar panel array lent for a perfect spot for the ribbon cutting. The group then transitioned between the rows of solar panels for a brief description on how the high efficiency SunPower panels operate.

Solar panel ribbon cutting June 2014

Solar panel ribbon cutting June 2014

Photographers from both the Santa Fe New Mexican and Albuquerque Journal were on site to document the event and an article appeared in the New Mexican’s front page of the Local News section and on the Green Fire Times newspaper.

This new second solar array is 1.5 MW, and with the first 1.0 MW solar array, the 2.5 MW combination will power 41 percent of the energy necessary to push Rio Grande surface water 11 miles uphill for treatment at BDD and distribution to our customers.

The energy savings will reduce the BDD’s annual bill up to an additional $206,000 per year, bringing the total potential annual energy saving to $400,000.

There are 4,608 high efficiency solar panels located at the new installation. The new system takes up 30 percent less land, minimizing the footprint of the site. Special thanks to the BDD staff and everyone involved in the solar project installation.

The Buckman Direct Diversion 2A Solar Field

BDD Plant Solar Facts

2.5 total MW (1.0 MW and 1.5 MW arrays)
41 percent average total energy
8,688 total high efficiency solar panels
$400,000 potential annual energy bill savings
15,000,000 gallons of water saved in 25 years
26,000 tons of Co2 saved in 25 years
2.5 MW produces approximately enough energy to power 2500 homes annually
13 total solar acres

Rick Carpenter speaks to Matt Miller and Henry Baer, Office of Sen. Udall
Rick Carpenter speaks to Matt Miller and Henry Baer, Office of Sen. Udall

John Brown from Positive Energy Solar explains how the solar panels works

John Brown from Positive Energy Solar explains how the solar panels works

Gary Durrant, BDD Chief Operator and Cisco Romero BDD Planner

Gary Durrant, BDD Chief Operator and Cisco Romero BDD Planner

BDD Operator Jesus Salayandia, Rick Carpenter Solar Project Manager give out cold BDD water bottles at the ribbon cutting event

BDD Operator Jesus Salayandia, Rick Carpenter, Solar Project Manager, give out cold BDD water bottles at the ribbon cutting event

Senator Peter Wirth recognizes the BDD Board's efforts

Senator Peter Wirth recognizes the BDD Board’s efforts


Funding Provided by the New Mexico Finance Authority Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund

The Buckman Direct Diversion 2A Solar Field  

The Buckman Direct Diversion 2A Solar Field


Rick Carpenter, BDD Project Manager



SANTA FE, N.M. – The Buckman Direct Diversion has installed a second solar array system, increasing the amount of total solar energy to 2.5 MW, powering 41 percent of total energy needs to treat and deliver Rio Grande surface water to Santa Fe residents.

The new 1.5 MW solar system is completely owned and operated by the BDD and provides 30 percent of the energy required to operate the pumps to push water 11 miles uphill from the Rio Grande to the water treatment plant. The solar system is located on 5 acres near the 2A Booster Station facility. The energy savings will reduce the BDD’s annual bill up to an additional $206,000 per year, bringing the total potential annual energy saving to $400,000.

The first solar system provides 1.0 MW, supplying most of the water treatment plant and finished water pumping electricity needs on sunny days. The array is located on 8-acres of BLM land adjacent to the Buckman Regional Water Treatment Plant.

“The customers we serve deserve the benefits of clean, fuel-free, renewable solar energy”, stated Joseph Maestas, BDD Board Chair and Santa Fe City Councilor. ”The BDD Board mandated several years ago that green power would be a component of providing our customers with sustainable drinking water and the BDD Board is firmly committed to energy and water efficient practices that will continue to reduce our carbon footprint and help our citizens adapt to climate change”.

The solar system cost $4.8 million to build and was funded in part by the New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA) through the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. Ryan Helton, NMFA senior program administrator states, “It’s refreshing to see municipalities put together a deal of this stature that will provide so many benefits to their constituents. Santa Fe has paved the way, and we hope to see other communities create these kinds of projects too.”

“The BDD board deserves recognition for being forward thinking and employing solar to power this critical facility in our community,” says Regina Wheeler, Positive Energy Solar CEO. “Now, the cost of energy for these pumps is fixed for 30 years. The price of the power is less than the BDD board was paying PNM today, and the savings will grow over time as grid electric becomes more expensive.”

“BDD is in the forefront of technology and we will continue on our green path to carry our customers and partners into the next generation,” says Liz Stefanics, BDD Vice-Chair and Santa Fe County Commissioner.

Some 4,608 high efficiency solar panels make up the new installation. The system takes up 30 percent less land, minimizing the footprint of the site. Positive Energy Solar and Bradbury Stamm Construction were selected through an RFP process to install the array.

The system will be unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony onsite, Thursday, June 19 at 3:00 pm.

About Buckman Direct Diversion Project

The Buckman Direct Diversion Project (BDD) provides a safe, reliable and sustainable source of drinking water for the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County by improving the regional water supply under drought conditions. The BDD Buckman is recognized as a state of the art, advanced water treatment facility in the state of New Mexico awarded with the prestigious national LEED certification on exemplary energy and water efficiencies, and the Good Housekeeping Award and the Max D. Summerlot Award for demonstrating excellence in water system operations, maintenance, management, safety and professionalism. BDD was also awarded with the Design-Build Institute of American Design-Build for Innovation. For more information, please visit

About Positive Energy Solar

An employee-owned company, Positive Energy Solar is the largest certified Benefits Corporation (B Corp) in New Mexico, a distinction earned for providing good wages, benefits, and growth opportunities for team members; contributing to schools and non profits; delivering 100 percent satisfaction to its customers; and selecting products for long term performance and low environmental impact. Positive Energy Solar is New Mexico’s leading residential and commercial solar installer, and was named the SunPower® residential dealer of the year for 2013. Visit


BDD Solar Sidebar

2.5 total MW (1.0 MW and 1.5 MW arrays)

41 percent average total energy

8,688 total high efficiency solar panels

$400,000 potential annual energy bill savings

15,000,000 gallons of water saved in 25 years

26,000 tons of Co2 saved in 25 years

2.5 MW produces approximately enough energy to power 2500 homes annually

13 total solar acres

To view news release, click here: BDD Installs 2nd Landmark Solar System

Thirty-seven graduate students, plus three administrators from Texas A&M’s Water Management & Hydrological Sciences Program toured the Buckman Direct Diversion regional water treatment plant on May 15 as part of a nine city interdisciplinary experiential learning and research program lead by Dr. Ronald Kaiser and Kevin Gamache. The Buckman Direct Diversion water treatment facility was included as part of this class’s field course titled, “Bridging Hydrology, Governance, Culture and Scarcity for Effective Rio Grande Water Management”.  

TX AM Tour Bottle  

The class journeyed from College Station, Texas to begin their trek of the Rio Grande from Alamosa, Colorado, then through New Mexico towns – Pilar, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Los Lunas and Las Cruces, continuing back into Texas through El Paso, Del Rio, McAllen, Brownsville and back to College Station.  

Mr. Kevin Gamache stated BDD is an integral part of the course field study program showing the importance of surface water diversion and advanced treatment to sustain the Santa Fe area’s future drinking water resources.  

Chief Operator Gary Durrant began the tour with an overview Power Point presentation of the BDD facility and treatment processes, then continued through the facility’s main campus conventional and advanced treatment processes structures. Many questions were asked throughout the presentation regarding advanced treatment processes, in addition to questions regarding existing positions and job opportunities.  

Dr. Kaiser feels the Buckman Direct Diversion model is such a critical and necessary model for the future of all low moisture, dry desert geographic areas in the Southwest including Texas and stated that BDD will be included in all graduate study field course trips in the future. The graduate course is a 2 year program and they plan to implement this field course trip as a mandatory end program practicum requirement for future classes.  

We enjoyed having the Texas A&M students onsite and look forward to hosting future tours for this group.    

TX AM Tour Floc Sediment

  Gary Durrant explains the flocculation and sedimentation process as a grad student video documents the whole tour.  

TX AM Tour Micron Filter   Gary discusses the micron membrane filtration process and explains how the water is pushed through the membrane filters to capture particulates greater than .1 micron while being video recorded.

  TX AM Tour Ozone View 2   Students are shown Ozone treatment only through windows. Hazardous levels may exist in this area, so people are not allowed in without proper PPE gear.


Organizations who are interested in tours may contact Bernardine R. Padilla at, 505-955-4519, or Gary Durrant at, 505-955-4501.


The habitat mitigation associated with the Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) surface water diversion project has been in full swing since November 2013. The mitigation work involves removing non-native vegetation and restoring diverse native riparian-wetland habitats to the area.

Non-native trees, including Siberian elm, Russian olive and saltcedar that previously dominated the project site were cut with chainsaws, and the stems and branches were fed through a chipper and ground into mulch. Herbicide was applied to the freshly cut tree stumps to prevent them from re-sprouting. The paintbrushes were used to prevent herbicide from dripping onto the soil.

Since the vast majority of the trees occupying the site are non-native, we left the largest Russian olive and Siberian elm trees standing for wildlife habitat until the native habitat develops. However, because the Siberian elm trees produce millions of seedlings that threaten to re-populate the project site, we used chainsaws to remove sections of bark around the trunk. This technique, referred to as “girdling” eventually kills the tree but the standing “snag” that results provides valuable habitat for roosting raptors and cavity nesting birds.

All of this forestry work was completed in January 2014.

The revegetation work began as soon as we completed the forestry work. This has involved planting approximately 3,500 native trees and shrubs, including Rio Grande cottonwood, three different willow species, New Mexico olive, and about seven other types of native shrubs. We also constructed a small (0.3 acre) willow wetland that is designed to flood when the Rio Grande swells during snow-melt runoff or summer monsoon rain events. All of the revegetation was completed in early March.

The next project phases involve erecting strong fences to create a designated parking area and to prevent unauthorized street vehicles from driving into the newly revegetated areas, and creating an educational kiosk to inform the public about the importance of the BDD water project and the goals of the habitat mitigation work.


Non-native saltcedar, Russian olive and Siberian elm trees previously dominated the project site.


These non-native trees were cut with chainsaws and chipped into mulch. The mulch was spread across the existing spur roads.


Garlon Ultra herbicide was applied directly to cut-stump surfaces using a paintbrush to prevent dripping herbicide onto the soil.


Over 1,000 willows, cottonwoods and other native shrubs were planted in a 0.3-acre seasonal wetland. This wetland is designed to flood when the river rises during snow-melt runoff and large summer monsoon rain events.

Over 3,000 native shrubs and trees were planted across the project site.


Native plants were installed using auger-mounted skid steer tractors to ensure that plants were installed close to the groundwater table.

On January 27, 2014, work began on the construction of a 1.5 megawatt Solar Array at the Buckman Direct Diversion’s Booster Station 2A. The construction of this facility will allow the Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) to utilized electricity from the array to power the seven (7) high production pumps housed in this station. The 2A facility is the last pump station of the three (3) Raw Water Facilities used to divert up to fifteen (15) million gallons a day of water from the Rio Grande River eleven (11) miles to the Buckman Regional Water Treatment Plant (BRWTP) where the water will be treated through both Conventional and Advanced Treatment Processes. The addition of the 1.5 megawatt solar array to the existing 1 megawatt solar array located at the BRWTP allows the BDD to produce approximately 35% of the system’s electrical consumption from the sun. The solar energy is sustainable and green, allowing the Buckman Direct Diversion to minimize its carbon footprint and reduce carbon emissions. The 2A Solar Project is scheduled to be completed Oct 31, 2014 with an estimated cost of 4.5 million dollars funded mostly by a grant from the State of New Mexico. For more information please contact project manager Rick Carpenter, Water Resources and Conservation Manager, City of Santa Fe, at 505-955-4206.

Unloading Piles for the Array

Piles set in the ground