Re: Mike was a tour last weekend to look at the future of central Santa Fe and Home Grown New Mexico participated as the Water Team. The Truck Farm, Pallet Farm and plants for the arroyo were all provided for the event. We had Ben Haggard, Nate Downey, Reese Baker, Pablo Navrot and Richard and Aaron from the story below that gave tours of water catchment sites. We hope to continue work on the water surrounding St. Michael’s and will send more updates on the blog. This article and photos are by Pablo Navrot.
Home Grown New Mexico’s tours to exemplary storm water harvesting sites
During the Re:Mike event, Home Grown New Mexico led tours to two model sites of precipitation harvesting. One tour showcased Aaron Kauffman’s’s bioretention basins at the La Farge Library just downstream from the Re:Mike event, the other tour was focused on Richard Jennings rainwater harvesting system at Salazar Elementary School.
As explained by Aaron, precipitation in our region is a blessing to the living aspects of the landscape, it provides for the needs of vegetation that improves the comfort of outdoor environments. However, the intensity of storms, coupled with the increase of surfaces like asphalt and roofs that don’t absorb precipitation, causes unnatural erosion in local arroyos. During storms, arroyos carry soil, pollutants, and biological wastes downstream, thus, paving the land in one place compromises the quality of a landscape downstream in the watershed. One intention of Re:Mike was to spotlight measures that show how development can be inclusive of water systems that are both beneficial to that specific site as well as downstream.
The differences between the system showcased at Salazar and La Farge are stark, but they both accomplish a similar goal – to manage stormwater onsite so there are mutual benefits on-site as well as downstream in regional arroyos and rivers.
The watershed improvements carried out by Aaron Kauffman, which were part of a hands-on workshop offered earlier this spring, is a passive system; here, all the working parts are living, and they regenerate in response to moisture present. Water is captured as it drains off the parking lot, and it is delivered via gravity to planted basins adjacent to the parking to provide shade, windbreak, habitat, pollinator forage, and pollution sequestration. In contrast, the roof water harvesting at Salazar is an active system, water is harvested, cleaned and pressurized for delivery to the school’s edible garden. Richard explained that at Salazar, water is initially delivered to a vortex chamber, where the cleaning action takes place, then it is pumped into two underground cisterns for use later. Water storage is available electronically and that it is in both English and Spanish at Salazar.
Home Grown would like to thank Claudia Meyer Horn, Mollie Toll, Christopher Sabo and Richard Jennings for being on-site at Salazar Elementary, and for Aaron Kauffman for leading the tour at La Farge Library.