November 2014

Water Newsbites – November 2014


Former Commissioner Sues NM Interstate Stream Commission

The former director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission has been granted a temporary restraining order, halting the commission’s deliberations over the future of the Gila River. Norm Gaume, an engineer, filed suit against his former agency, alleging that the commission violated the state Open Meetings Act because of closed-door discussions. The commission must decide by Dec. 31 whether to accept up to $62 million in federal funding to help dam the river to create a water-diversion and reservoir system. Guame and his many supporters think that the project would harm would devastate the river environment and would likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars beyond the initial federal funding. The Gila River, in southwestern New Mexico, is the last free-flowing river in the state.

In the suit, Gaume says that the agency secretly met without public notice and took a series of actions, including a subcommittee decision to spend $700,000 on a consulting contract. Amy Haas, an attorney for the commission, said in a written statement that “Gila Committee” does not constitute a quorum and therefore its meetings are not public and do not require notice. Brian Egolf, Gaume’s attorney, said if it is doing substantive work, the subcommittee must abide by the law, provide notice and hold its meetings in public. At press time, the District Court was to decide whether to lift the restraining order, extend it or issue another injunction.



Water-Wise Training for Professional Landscapers

From Nov. 10–14, the city of Santa Fe Water Conservation Office will be hosting an EPA-approved Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) training to area landscape/irrigation professionals, local nonprofits, governmental agencies, water utilities/service providers and educational institutions. The training is offered at $75. QWEL provides 32 hours of education based on principles of proper plant selection for the local climate, irrigation-system design and maintenance and irrigation-system programming and operation.

Having certified professionals extends the city’s ability to provide expert water-efficiency evaluations and irrigation check-ups to encourage customers to put every drop of water to work by ensuring their irrigation system operates at peak efficiency to minimize overwatering, evaporation and runoff,” said Water Conservation Manager Laurie Trevizo. To register, call 505.955.4220 or go to



SF Median Wins EPA Award for Stormwater Management

The city of Santa Fe has received a national honor for a 640-foot street median that makes better use of storm runoff. The demonstration project at St. Michael’s Drive and Calle Lorca received the U.S. E.P.A. People’s Choice Award for Green Infrastructure and Low-Impact Development. The award honors small-scale effective uses of green infrastructure.

The City Water Conservation Office is using the median to show how small, low-cost design changes can significantly improve stormwater flow and make it possible to retain rainwater for use as irrigation on public-owned medians. The median was re-designed using recycled materials for infiltration galleries, curb cuts to access runoff and planted with native species to filter rainfall, recharge groundwater and reduce maintenance. Construction took 86 man-hours and cost $280 in materials. The design, removal and installation time was less than a week.

The city wants to lead by example and provide incentives for both other city infrastructure improvements and for our customers who want to take water conservation efforts to the next level,” said Laurie Trevizo, Water Conservation manager.

For more information about water conservation in Santa Fe, including the Drought Water Management Plan, residential and commercial rebate programs, and outdoor/indoor water use requirements, visit



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