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Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) Project, Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States of America




Key Data


The BDD Project is serving as a sustainable source of drinking water

The Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) Project is an innovative water supply project that is co-owned by the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County in New Mexico, US.

The project consists of integrated infrastructure that is used to divert as much as 8,730 acre-feet (2,844 million gallon) of surface water annually from the Rio Grande river. It will supply as much as 15 million gallons of treated drinking water each day to the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County.

Las Campanas, a residential club in Santa Fe, is also a limited partner of this project. It will use raw water for irrigation at its facilities.

The BDD Project was conceptualised in 2001. Its construction was started in September 2008 and completed in December 2010. The project has been operational since January 2011.

The water supply project has cost an estimated $229m, which was funded through tax and bonds by the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County, and limited cash funding of $12m by Las Campanas. Its construction has generated a total of 500 jobs, including 130 permanent jobs.

Need for the Buckman Direct Diversion Project

"It will supply as much as 15 million gallons of treated drinking water each day to the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County."

The Santa Fe region meets its drinking water needs through groundwater pumping and Santa Fe River reservoirs. The reservoirs, however, cease to be a reliable source during drought conditions. During non-drought conditions too, the reservoirs can only supply a maximum of 50% of the region's drinking water needs.

The limited supply of water from the Santa Fe River reservoirs is resulting in over pumping of groundwater, which results in damage to the underground aquifer.

The BDD Project is serving as a sustainable source of drinking water by replacing groundwater sources while maintaining reliable water supplies in drought conditions.

The BDD Project diverts and treats the renewable surface water from the Rio Grande that the region owns by virtue of water rights. The project has the capacity to supply up to 15 million gallons of treated drinking water per day, which is sufficient to meet the maximum daily drinking water demands of the region.

BDD Project infrastructure and BRWTP details

The BDD Project consists of a diversion structure, a sediment removal facility, two raw water booster stations, 11 miles (17.7km) of underground raw water pipeline, an additional pipeline to pump raw water to Las Campanas, a water treatment plant, two treated water pump stations, eight million gallons of raw water storage and four million gallons of finished water storage at the treatment facility, along with a 15 mile (24.1km) finished water pipeline.

The diversion structure is located near the former Buckman town site in the northwestern region of Santa Fe. It is situated on the east bank of the Rio Grande, about three miles (4.8km) downstream of Otowi Bridge.

The sediment removal facility removes sand from the diverted water and sends it back to the river. The water is then pumped to the second booster station through the underground pipeline. The raw water pumps send the water 1,100ft uphill to the new Buckman Regional Water Treatment Plant (BRWTP) near the Municipal Recreational Complex.

The BRWTP treats the water and delivers it to the public water systems in the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County through the finished water pipeline with the use of two pumping stations.

Nine-step water treatment process

The diverted water goes through a nine-step water treatment process. The 15 million gallon-a-day water treatment plant uses advanced technologies, including membrane filtration, ozonation and granular activated carbon contactors.

"The BDD has an early notification plan in place to shut off the diversion when such pollution is suspected."

The water that has undergone pre-sedimentation is treated with ozone. It is then coagulated by adding ferric chloride to remove particles and organic materials.

The coagulated water is flocculated to combine the particles into floc, which is easier to settle. The water then undergoes membrane filtration to remove the small suspended solids and biological elements, including Giardia, Cryptosproidium, bacteria, protozoa and so on.

The membrane-filtered water is subsequently oxidised with ozone and forced through the granular activated carbon (GAC) contacting tanks. The water gets polished as the GAC adsorbs the oxidised organic materials and other compounds.

Finally chlorine is added to the treated water to ensure disinfection of water during distribution.

Storm and flood management for the BDD

As per the standards defined by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Rio Grande water is free of radiological contaminants unless there is a storm causing floods along the river. The BDD has an early notification plan in place to shut off the diversion when such pollution is suspected.

Solar technology

A one megawatt solar plant with photovoltaic panels installed across eight acres has been constructed to supply electricity to the water treatment plant.

A second solar plant for generating electricity for booster station 2A is scheduled to start operations in 2013. The US Environmental Protection Agency is providing $5m as a capital investment for installing the solar panels. The second solar plant will be owned and operated by BDD.

Once the new solar power facility is operational, about one-third of BDD's electricity consumption will be met through solar power.

Key players involved with the BDD Project

CDM Smith, a consulting, engineering, construction firm, was selected as the owners' consultant to develop the implementation plan for the BDD.

The design and build contract of the BDD was awarded to CH2M HILL and its joint venture partner Western Summit Constructors. American Capital Energy is the builder, owner and operator of the one megawatt solar power facility for the water treatment plant of the BDD Project.


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The BDD will use as much as 8,730 acre-feet of surface water annually from the Rio Grande.
The project diverted water to the BRWTP for the first time in January 2011.
Aerial view of the Buckman Regional Water Treatment Plant.
Diverted water from Rio Grande is pumped uphill to the new BRWTP.
Treated water is delivered to public water systems in the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County.
Photovoltaic panels have been installed in an eight-acre field to provide solar power.