INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS AND
FUTURE GROWTH FAQs

Why is EAWSD continuing to invest in infrastructure?

  • Quite simply, our plant is aging, and it was in poor shape when EAWSD acquired it in 2004.

  • Without replacement and improvement of the infrastructure, maintenance and repair costs would increase and emergency repairs would be required with more frequency, putting at risk the delivery of a reliable, quality water supply to all customers.

  • The District’s asset management plan helps determine the timing for infrastructure replacement, based on cost of replacement versus cost of maintenance and repair of the asset. 

    • In certain areas of the District we are experiencing service line and water main breaks more frequently;  

    • Older wells have lost production capacity and require replacement;

    • Pumping stations require major improvements or total replacement;  

    • Storage tanks require major maintenance and improvements;  

    • Meters must be replaced continually to ensure their continued accuracy;  

    • In addition, as newer technology becomes available, we need to be in a position to leverage that technology to make our system more efficient and reliable.

 

How are these improvements funded?

  • Improvements are funded through water service and property tax revenues and supplemented by government grants and low-interest state and federal loans. Currently, we anticipate being able to borrow between $1 million and $1.5 million annually for capital projects while continuing to pay down the debt the community incurred in purchasing the utility.

 

How are infrastructure needs documented?

  • EAWSD maintains both a long-term Utility Management Plan and an Asset Management Plan. These plans are used to develop and adopt a 5-year capital improvement plan (the “Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan” or “ICIP”), which is updated, reviewed and approved by the Board annually and submitted to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.

 

Why do we need to drill new wells if water consumption has fallen?

  • The District’s only source of drinking water to date has been groundwater wells, which are subject to the effects of drought conditions. The District must be prepared to meet customer demand during both wet and dry periods. When EAWSD acquired the water utility, the water production capacity was insufficient to meet customer demand. To address this, the District drilled two new wells between 2005 and 2010. Even so, the District barely met the capacity required to provide backup in the event that one of the major wells failed during a peak demand period in a wet year. A period of drought began in 2011, which affected the District’s water production capacity. Even though consumption has fallen since 2011, it has not fallen enough to make up for this loss of production capacity. It could take years for the aquifers used by the District to recover from the drought period. In addition, we cannot predict when or how often drought years will impact the Southwest.

 

Will EAWSD connect to Santa Fe County's proposed water pipeline?

  • It is generally beneficial for a utility to have access to multiple sources of water, such as both groundwater and surface water, so that it can optimize its management of water resources. Santa Fe County produces drinking water from wells and from the Rio Grande through the Buckman Direct Diversion Project. While the County has discussed for many years its intent to construct a pipeline to Canoñcito that would pass along EAWSD’s northern boundary, no such pipeline is yet under construction, and there is no definite schedule as to when it might be constructed. If and when a County pipeline is constructed, a number of issues would need to be addressed to determine if purchasing water from the County was in the best interest of the District. Those issues include:

    • The price of County water as compared to the cost of producing water from District wells;

    • The amount of water the County would require the District to purchase during the year;

    • The impact the price and amount of water purchased would have on District rates;

    • Whether purchasing County water would allow the District to defer drilling a new well;

    • The availability of County water, particularly during high demand summer months when the District would need it most;

    • The quality of County water and how mixing water from the County with District water would affect water quality and District operations.

 

How is future growth managed?

 

  • Land use requirements, and thus growth, are regulated by Santa Fe County. However, the County will not authorize a development (or even a lot split) in the District’s water service area without requiring a letter from EAWSD stating that it is willing and able to provide water service to the development. By law, the District must provide water service within its designated boundaries if water is available. The costs of connecting new properties to the EAWSD water system, including water infrastructure costs, are the responsibility of property developers.

 

What must developers do before connecting new homes to EAWSD’s water?

To bring a new development into the EAWSD water system, a developer must provide:

  • Water in excess of the development's requirements, typically through a well transferred to EAWSD, or fees to develop new water sources;

  • Water rights, or the financial equivalent for EAWSD to acquire additional water rights, equal to the development's requirements;

  • Payment of fees based on the value of existing assets needed to provide water service to the development;

  • Any pipelines and water service infrastructure required to connect the development and its individual lots to the EAWSD system.