Pojoaque Basin regional water system moves toward construction

Media Contact: Mary Carlson, 505-462-3576, mcarlson@usbr.gov

For Release: September 17, 2019

Pojoaque Basin Regional Water System ceremony group photo
Pojoaque Basin Regional Water System ceremony group photo
SANTA FE, NM - The Bureau of Reclamation is one step closer to constructing a water system to bring safe, reliable drinking water to four Pueblos and parts of Santa Fe County under the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Agreement. Today, Reclamation’s Commissioner Brenda Burman joined settlement parties to sign an agreement that renegotiated cost shares and cost savings measures in the project. She also delivered the signed decision document completing the final environmental impact statement process for the construction.

The Pojoaque Basin regional water system will divert water from the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico. The system will include water treatment facilities on the Pueblo de San Ildefonso, along with storage tanks and transmission and distribution pipelines to supply up to 4,000 acre-feet (about 1.3 billion gallons) of drinking water annually to the Pueblos of Nambé, Tesuque, San Ildefonso and Pojoaque, and other Santa Fe County customers in the Pojoaque Basin.

“I commend the Pueblos, the county and all the settlement parties for reaching an agreement on revising the cost share arrangements and on making changes to allow for cost savings on this complicated project. This is a great accomplishment,” said Commissioner Brenda Burman “This agreement, along with our signed record of decision completing the environmental process for this project allow us to move forward to break ground on construction early next year.”

Section 611(g) of the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act allows the settlement parties to renegotiate the existing cost-share of the project should the real costs exceed the original estimated costs. After nearly a year of negotiations, settlement parties reached an agreement that contains approximately $15 million in cost-savings measures and additional financial commitments from the partners.

With the 611(g) agreement negotiated, the Department of the Interior was able to finalize the environmental compliance process with a decision to construct the Pojoaque Basin regional water system. The preferred alternative selected will result in the least ground disturbance and the lowest cost for both construction and operation. The Pojoaque Basin regional water system is part of the Aamodt Settlement Agreement and was authorized by Congress under the Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act of 2010 to settle Indian water rights disputes in the Pojoaque Basin.

A total of five design alternatives for constructing the regional water system were considered in the environmental impact statement. The record of decision also approves two connected actions analyzed in the EIS. Reclamation prepared the record of decision in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the four settlement Pueblos, New Mexico Department of Transportation, Santa Fe County and the City of Santa Fe. The decision made in the ROD is based on how this alternative helps offset the effects of groundwater pumping and in consideration of how the components of this alternative avoid or minimize potential environmental impacts, while providing a reliable, firm and safe supply of treated drinking water for distribution in the Pojoaque Basin in compliance with the Settlement Act.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

Pojoaque Basin Regional Water System EIS

Upper Colorado Region Environmental Impact Statements and Record of Decisions