Santa Fe County

Public Works

Water Wise

Yay! You are interested in becoming more water-wise!

Why save water?

When we use less water, we help protect our local water resources and meet current and future needs more sustainably. Since groundwater and surface water are interconnected, using less groundwater means more water for the creeks, springs, rivers, and ecosystems in New Mexico. In most parts of Santa Fe County, the groundwater aquifers were filled thousands of years ago; the drop we use today is not likely to be replenished.

Saving water also saves you money! Regardless if your water source is a well or a utility, using less water means more money in your pocket! If you are on a well, conserving water saves on the electric cost to pump water and on the wear-and-tear of your pumping infrastructure.

How much water do I use?

The simplest way to calculate your residential water use is to standardize it on a per-person, per-day basis. By taking the amount of water on your water bill and dividing it by the average number of days in a month (30.4 days), then dividing it by the number of people in your household, you can estimate your gallon-per-person-per-day use. Do you use less water than the average Santa Fe County utility user, who uses 59 gallons-per-person-per-day?

If your water comes from a well, you can use your well meter reading instead of your water utility bill. Divide the total gallons used by the number of days between the two readings, then divide by the number of people in your household for your gallons-per-person-per-day.

Another option is to estimate your customized water use based on your home appliances and uses.  

Interesting Fact: Almost everything we use in our daily lives has a water footprint, from the food we eat, to the fuel for our cars, the electricity for our gadgets, and the clothes we wear. These two websites can calculate your total water footprint:

How can I save water at home?

Although habits—like taking shorter showers—do reduce water use, the most effective way to save water is by installing water-saving, EPA-certified WaterSense faucets, shower heads, toilets, dishwashers, and washing machines. Since more than half of residential water use comes from flushing, your toilet is a great place to start: check for leaks and replace the toilet if it uses more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Stop by Santa Fe County Public Work Department at 424 Highway 599 W. Frontage Road to pick up your free leak-detecting toilet dye tablets or use your own dye.  

Outdoor landscaping also provides many opportunities to save water. 

Here are some of our favorite websites on how to save water at home:

Leaking Toilets: Testing and Fixing

Does your toilet leak?  Here is an easy way to check and you can pick up free leak dye tablets at Santa Fe County Public Works complex. If you've determined you have a leaking toilet, most fixes are fairly simple, and there are many resources on the web, like: 

Taking care of your domestic well

When a well is drilled, that well becomes directly connected to the groundwater aquifer, whether groundwater is shallow (less than 50 feet below the ground surface) or deeper. When that well is pumped, it pulls in water from all of the surrounding rocks in the shape of a cone or funnel, connecting your well to the groundwater shared by your neighbors. Here are some tips to protect your and your community’s groundwater supply:

  • Shield your wellhead area. Keep pesticides, fertilizers, pet and animal waste, septic system drain fields, dump sites, and compost piles at least 100 feet away from your well.
  • Slope the ground. Make sure the ground around your well is higher than the surfaces nearby, to keep surface water from running down along the casing and into your water supply.
  • Inspect your well annually. Assure there are no gaps between your well cap and well casing where surface water, insects, or rodents can enter the well and contaminate your water supply. Look for visible cracks to the casing, or damage to the well cap and other well components.
  • Test the well water quality periodically. The New Mexico Environment Department has water testing fairs periodically throughout New Mexico. The Environment Department tests your water sample for pH, electrical conductivity, nitrates, iron, sulfate, arsenic, and fluoride. Visit the Environment Department's website periodically to find water quality fairs in your area
  • Maintain well records. Keep and update records about your well including your annual meter readings, your New Mexico Office of the State Engineer well permit, your well (drilling) log, water quality test results, a log of maintenance work performed, and Santa Fe County water use restrictions. Some of this information is available through the NM Office of the State Engineer Water Lookup website, and restrictions on your well may be identified on your property plat. You can submit your domestic well meter readings to Santa Fe County using the Meter Reading Reporting Form.

The water-energy nexus

Water is critical in producing the energy we use to keep our homes comfortable and to fuel our transportation. In oil and gas development, water is used for extraction and is produced as a by-product. In electricity generation, barrels of water are heated to high-pressure steam to drive turbines, which is recovered in closed-loop systems. Water is also used to manufacture the solar panels and wind turbines for renewable energy. Using less energy and less fuel also saves our water resources. Read more about the challenges and opportunities of the water-energy nexus (US Department of Energy, The Water-Energy Nexus).

For more information

Please contact:

Jacqueline Beam, 505-992-9832 / [bot protected email address]

Caitlin Weber, 505-995-9515 / [bot protected email address]


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