A new map and an article,released by the Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) Project, show how the San Juan and Chama Rivers are being diverted to meet the water consumption of Northwestern New Mexico. This diversion will provide more than half of the total annual potable water use in Santa Fe and Santa Fe county, according to the BDD Project. Diversion projects like this one are celebrated for potentially improving the regional water supply under drought conditions and replacing groundwater that is fast disappearing due to drought conditions and mining in our State.
Here’s the issue folks: The BDD water intake is 3 miles downstream from where Los Alamos Canyon flows into the Rio Grande. In 2008, the New Mexico Environment Department, Department of Energy Oversight Bureau found plutonium and other heavy metals in the area (“Los Alamos National Laboratory Legacy Contaminent Study at the Buckman Direct Diversion,” August 2008, by Englert, Dale, Ford-Schmid and Granzow). During the 1950s and 1960s, pollutants from Manhattan Project activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) were carried in storm water through the canyons to the Rio Grande. Contaminated soils were deposited in an old slough in the Buckman area on the east side of the river. Although new soils have covered the pollution, it remains just hundreds of feet upstream from where the Buckman Direct Diversion Project pumps river water for Santa Fe’s drinking water supply.
Check out the maps on this site, and visit www.bddproject.org for more information about the City’s plans for this offspring of the once great Colorado River.