We live in a land of vast abundance, but northern New Mexico is, of course, also prone to water shortage. Water has sustained life in Northern New Mexico for hundreds of years; however, history has shown that we are prone to prolonged droughts from time to time and consequently need to manage water very wisely.
It is a life giving substance - enabling our communities and economies to survive and thrive. This becomes especially apparent from the air, where one can see a vast majority of NM's population living within miles of the Rio Grande. Santa Fe is lucky in that it has both the Rio Grande and the runoff from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for its water supply.
This easy access to water created an ideal location for our community and local agriculture. Garcia Street and the surrounding areas used to be farms not long ago. You can still see the sign for the old Gormley's trading goods store on Canyon Road, where local farmers would drop off their produce for folks from all around the area to buy. Of course, this store of bygone times is now a high-end art gallery, and its function has been replaced by the local farmers' markets.
To support an agrarian-based economy, Santa Fe used to have more than 30 active acquecias running through the city. These irrigation ditches were cleaned and maintained by the people living along them. They were the lifeblood of many northern NM communities. Of course, most are long gone, and we have moved from an agricultural-based economy to a more diverse, modern one. Although the method of moving our water has changed dramatically over the last century, our dependency on it has not. Water remains a local resource that is required for a strong, local living economy.
Water is local and will remain local.
It has been the foundation of the economy for past decades and will continue for decades to come. It cannot be manufactured offshore, nor can it be outsourced. It is our most precious resource and it is the base on which our local economies are built. Even so, for most of us, water remains out of sight and out of mind.
Like our local produce, water is not a given and requires constant tending. Continued focus and investment is required to enable all of us to live in this area of abundant beauty. Without water, there is no growth, no local communities and no "us." We can be proud of our past water conserving efforts, but as any farmer will tell you -- last year's crop is no indicator for next year.
Water is not only a life giving resource it also is an
economic engine. We have moved from an
agrarian economy, to a mixed economy, but water is still critical to our
growth. Unnoticed, is it is also driving
a growing number of thriving water-related businesses and we are truly blessed
to have an unbelievable array of world-class water experts and water businesses
that call Northern New Mexico home. These
businesses and individuals are local and can help us build a sustainable future
in this arid area we all call home.
As published in the Santa Fe Real Estate Magazine, March 2011