Water is pumped (diverted) from the Rio Grande on the east river bank three miles below the Otowi Bridge. Sand is separated from the water and returned to the Rio Grande. Water is then pumped 11 miles and 1,100 vertical feet uphill to the Buckman Direct Diversion Water Treatment Plant (BDD). Las Campanas receives untreated river water for irrigation. The BDD then makes bulk wholesale deliveries to the City and the County by pumping treated drinking water to their independent public water systems. The BDD includes the main administrative, and treatment facilities; a raw water diversion structure on the Rio Grande; a sand removal facility; three raw water booster stations; two treated water pump stations; 12 million gallons of total water storage capacity, and 31 miles of raw and finished water pipelines. The BDD also helps make the Santa Fe Living River Project possible as a refuge for animals and a rich environment for play and exploration by all ages through the habitat restoration project adjacent to the BDD diversion site.

Conservation and BDD Project help fill Santa Fe Community Water Supply Gap


Chart based on data from Figure 11, Jemez y Sangre Regional Water Plan, 2007 update.

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 the City and County customers, the City will not need additional water supplies until after 2030. The County’s share of the BDD will satisfy their requirements for decades.

The BDD is able to deliver up to 15 million gallons per day (MGD) of treated drinking water for City and County water system customers, which is approximately equal to the current maximum daily water demand of existing City and County customers. Normally, the BDD will operate at about one-half of full capacity. Annual water diversions from the Rio Grand are limited to 8,730 acre-feet per year, compared to total 2010 water use of about 10,000 acre-feet per year.

Click here for a map and summary of the BDD.

Creates Infrastructure to Access Water Rights We Already Own

The BDD creates infrastructure we need to access an additional reliable source of wet water available from the Rio Grande that we already own but cannot otherwise access.

This includes new infrastructure to access San Juan-Chama federal project water from the Rio Grande, under the terms of an agreement signed in 1976, and to access senior Rio Grande water rights or other San Juan-Chama Project water owned by the City, County and The Las Campanas partnership.

The City and County have permanent contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the San Juan-Chama Project, for a total of 5,605 acre-feet of San Juan-Chama Project water per year.

The allocation provides approximately two-thirds of the BDD Project allowable annual maximum diversions. It is a little more than half of the total potable water use by the City and County public water systems and Las Campanas over the last several years.

Up to 25% additional San Juan-Chama water can be diverted at the BDD under the State Engineer permit in any year, subject to availability of the water and prior approval of the State Engineer.

The remaining one-third of the planned BDD diversions will be supported by native Rio Grande water rights owned by the County and Las Campanas.

Helps protect us from running out of water during a drought or a reduced water supply caused by climate change.

In 2001, the BDD was designed to provide a sustainable water supply for the area’s projected 2010 customer population under existing climate conditions. It is important to note that effective water conservation has stretched this date forward about a decade to 2020.

Water conservation has significantly reduced the Santa Fe area’s per-capita water use since its peak in 1995. In fact, City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County water customers have made our region a leader in water conservation and drought management, reducing demand by about 40% over the last decade. Current City use averages about 102 gallons per person per day, and County use is even less.

The BDD fully supports continued effective water conservation, and recognizes that conservation is required by federal and state permits for the project. Water conservation alone, however, no matter how effective, cannot reduce water demand to a level that could be reliably and sustainably met from currently existing Santa Fe River and groundwater supplies.

For more information on City of Santa Fe water conservation programs.

The San Juan-Chama Project water delivered to the Santa Fe region by the BDD is an additional source of water; therefore, it provides additional protection from drought. Although climate change is expected to reduce stream flow and mountain snowpacks in the southwest, the Santa Fe region’s water supply from the San Juan-Chama Project via the BDD should be more reliable than the supply in most New Mexico rivers. This is due to the Heron Reservoir storage that is used to “firm” the annual San Juan-Chama Project deliveries to contractors, the shortage-sharing provisions of the federal authorizing legislation and the high mountain source located just south of Wolf Creek Pass on the Continental Divide.

Makes the Living Santa Fe River Possible

The BDD also makes the living Santa Fe River possible. The Living River project connects the Santa Fe River to its watershed. The Living River supports a healthy plant community and becomes a refuge for animals. It also provides a rich environment for play and exploration by people of all ages.

Provides Excellent Quality Drinking Water

The BDD Water Treatment Plant contains advanced drinking water treatment processes, beyond those that are commonly used elsewhere across the nation.  The BDD produces excellent and safe drinking water quality. For more information, please visit Water Quality.