The BDD is owned by the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County. The treated drinking water is distributed throughout the City and the County’s water systems to all Santa Fe customers.
The BDD is limited by permits to diversions of 8,730 acre-feet per year. The total annual capacity will provide:
- Up to 1,700 acre-feet of drinking water annually to Santa Fe County
- Up to 5,230 acre-feet of drinking water annually to the City of Santa Fe
- Up to 1,800 acre-feet of untreated river water to Las Campanas
Water Supply Amounts
The BDD’s size was selected in 2001 to provide a renewable water supply for the area’s projected 2010 customer population under existing climate conditions when used together with reduced amounts of groundwater pumping and water from the Santa Fe River. It is important to note that the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County have made our region a leader in water conservation
and drought management. Due to major reductions in water use by City and County customers, the City will not need additional water supplies until after 2020. The County’s share of the BDD will satisfy its customers’ requirements for decades to come.
The Buckman Direct Diversion is able to deliver up to 15 million gallons per day (MGD) of treated drinking water for City and County water system customers if needed, which is approximately equal to the current daily maximum daily water demand of existing City and County customers. Normally, the BDD operates at about one-half of full capacity. Annual water diversions from the Rio Grande are limited to 8,730 acre-feet per year, compared to total current water use of about 10,000 acre-feet per year.
How Water Rights Work – And Relate to the BDD
As a sustainable public water supply project in New Mexico, the BDD must have:
- Legal Rights to Water
- A physical supply of wet water to go with the legal water right
Legal Rights to Water
Legal rights include ownership of water rights or a legal contract right to the water. An approved permit from the New Mexico State Engineer to divert the water for beneficial use is also required.
The City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County have Bureau of Reclamation permanent contracts for 5,605 acre-feet per year of San Juan-Chama Project water. This will provide about two-thirds of the 8,720 acre-feet per year allowed to be diverted annually by the BDD.
The City’s share of the BDD (5,230 acre-feet) consists entirely (100%) of San Juan-Chama water. Legal rights for the remaining share, about one-third of the BDD’s annual diversion limit, comes from native Rio Grande water rights or other San Juan-Chama water. Native Rio Grande water is diverted under water rights transferred to the BDD from elsewhere in the Middle Rio Grande. Each transfer requires an application to, and approval from the New Mexico State Engineer. Other San Juan-Chama water that is leased to or owned by the City or County or Las Campanas may also be available for part of the remaining one-third of the BDD’s annual diversion capacity.
New Mexicans know there may be a difference between paper water, which is the legal right to divert water for beneficial use, and real, wet water that is actually available at the point of diversion. The San Juan-Chama Project water contracted to the City and County provides reliable water. Most of the native Rio Grande water rights the County and Las Campanas transfered to the BDD were established by beneficial use of the water for irrigation in the Middle Rio Grande before New Mexico’s first water laws were established in 1907. The corresponding senior priority date and BDD location provides a reliable wet water supply in most years.