Pitching in to Make Sure a ‘Living River’ Runs Through NM Cities
Two of New Mexico's largest cities are raising money to maintain the healthy flow of two rivers. The cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque have "river funds" to purchase water rights for the sole purpose of preserving the natural flows of the Santa Fe River and the Rio Grande. And now, Santa Fe residents can help, simply by checking a little box on their monthly water bill. Janine Johnston is the City of Santa Fe's river coordinator.
"Community members will find in their bill the ability to either give a one-time donation to this fund, or they can sign up monthly. A lot of people have signed up to give anywhere between $1 and $50 per month for the fund already."
The City of Santa Fe matches all the contributions to the fund by residents on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Residents can mark how much they want to donate on the payment coupon of their monthly City of Santa Fe utility bill.
The City of Albuquerque is looking into starting a similar check-off program in the coming months for the Rio Grande "Living River Fund." Mayor Martin Chavez says the fund is the first of its kind for a city of Albuquerque's size.
"It is a permanent fund of water to assist the ecosystem all along the Rio Grande. And, it's just a great partnership between urban and rural and natural environment."
The Rio Grande fund leases water from willing farmers to help preserve the river's flow. The Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Water Authority contributed $225,000 to the fund as part of a settlement to an ongoing lawsuit between cities, farmers and conservation groups.