Morning Word

City of Santa Fe Addresses Broken Water Mains

Local skiing and shopping season commences

City of Santa Fe offers assurances on water main breaks

Residents receiving Alert Santa Fe notifications or anyone who follows the city’s Office of Emergency Management Twitter account will have noticed the volume of water-main breaks of late. Yesterday: Paseo de Peralta and Fiesta Street. Monday: Cordova Road. Nov. 13: Garcia Street. Nov. 12: Camino Cabra. You get the idea. But city Water Division Director Jesse Roach tells the Santa Fe New Mexican the number of water main breaks in 2022 tracks with prior years: 29 so far in 2022 versus an average of 31.6 per year since 2014. He noted that the growing number of residents receiving Alert Santa Fe notifications may have influenced the perception of a growing issue and said as the city works through “the technology and the benefits of communication, we are looking at maybe how to be more targeted in sending out those alerts.” He acknowledged that the number of water main breaks this month may have been due to the colder-than-average temperatures, but said Santa Fe has a lower rate of water main breaks per mileage of pipeline than the nation’s average: 5.3 breaks per 100 miles of pipe versus 14 breaks per year, according to a 2018 study by Utah State University of 281 US utilities. Fun fact: The city’s oldest water main dates to 1881 and, according to Roach, still works fine. The city does spend approximately $1.5 million to $3 million annually to replace pipes, a figure expected to grow over the next decade to $8 to $10 million.

DFA Secretary announces retirement

Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Deborah Romero will be retiring from state government after 48 years, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced yesterday. According to a news release, during her nearly 50 years as a public servant, Romero worked for nine different governors and participated in more than 40 legislative sessions. Much of her career has been with DFA, for which she became secretary in 2020 after serving as its deputy secretary and director of the department’s state budget division. She also previously worked as chief financial officer for the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, as well as the director of Boards and Commissions under two previous administrations. In a statement, Romero said she began her career with the state as an intern, and finishing as a cabinet secretary was “a dream come true,” calling the last four years “the most exciting and rewarding of my career.” Lujan Grisham thanked Romero for her service and noted several of her accomplishments, such as overseeing the distribution of $1.8 billion in federal funds; creating the infrastructure capital outlay process for local governments; and launching the now-25-year-old state Infrastructure Finance Conference. “There is no question that her decades of work on matters of state finance have left an indelible and undeniably positive mark,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement on Romero’s retirement. “After nearly 50 years as a tireless and steadfast public servant, she has certainly earned this next chapter of retirement with her family, and I wish her all the very best.”

Women’s Commission ISO members

The City of Santa Fe is currently taking applications for two vacancies on its Women’s Commission: A District 3 seat and an at-large position. Established in 2019, the Women’s Commission “aims to strengthen the quality of life of women and girls in Santa Fe so they can thrive personally and professionally.” The commission meets from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on the second Tuesday of every month in a public hybrid virtual/in-person format, and is responsible for “reviewing the city’s programs, policies, services, ordinances, budgets and practices with a gender equity lens,” and making recommendations on topics that directly impact women and girls in Santa Fe. The commission also is charged with “seeking and recommending opportunities to partner with other organizations, community members and agencies to ensure women and girls have equal opportunity and representation in decision-making roles.” The mayor appoints commission members—who must live within city limits—with City Council approval; commission membership is women-only, which includes transgender women, self-identifying women and gender non-binary persons, with “an emphasis on recruiting women of color to best reflect communities in Santa Fe.” To apply, send a letter of interest and resume by 5 pm, Friday, Dec. 16 to: Sophie Andar, Youth and Family Services Program Manager/Women’s Commission Liaison, at

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Nov. 22: New cases: 626; 641,881 total cases. Deaths: zero; Santa Fe County has had 366 total deaths; there have been 8,698 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 232; Patients on ventilators: 11Thanksgiving precautions: Yesterday’s hospitalizations were almost 36% higher than just a week ago, with health officials last week saying they had doubled in the last month. In advance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the health department yesterday issued a list of precautions, including: getting an updated booster; watching for COVID-19 symptoms and testing when they occur; staying home when sick and using the CDC isolation/exposure calculator; testing in advance of holiday gatherings; ventilating or convening outside when possible; and masking when traveling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Nov. 17 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, shows improvement, with only four counties categorized “orange”—high risk—for COVID-19, versus eight last week. They are: Bernalillo, Sandoval, San Juan and Valencia counties. Both Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties, which were orange last week, are among the “green,” counties, signifying lower risk. Nine New Mexico counties are “yellow,” or medium. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Do you feed the dog under the table at Thanksgiving? Does the relative ruckus of the holidays make your kitty anxious? These are some of the issues Murad Kirdar, public relations officer of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, and Bobbi Heller, executive director of Felines and Friends, discuss on the most recent episode of the Pet Chat podcast.

Mountain time

The Thanksgiving holiday ushers in the start of ski season, with at least Ski Santa Fe, Taos Ski Valley and Red River Ski Area all opening for the season this week (on Thanksgiving in the case of Santa Fe and Taos; today for Red River). Condé Nast Traveler rounds up New Mexico’s five best ski resorts, which includes both Santa Fe, Taos and Red River, as well as Angel Fire Resort and Ski Apache (which appears to open this weekend). The story by Daniel Gibson (co-author of the book Skiing in New Mexico) includes background on each ski area; the low-down on their ski passes; along with tips for aprés, eating, drinking and lodging in the respective areas. As for Santa Fe’s ski area, though often eclipsed by Taos, Gibson writes, Santa Fe has “perhaps the best tree skiing in the state—on runs like Tequila Sunrise, Richard’s Glade, and the steeper Big Trees—and great wide groomers like Gay Way, which takes skiers through bump lines, tremendously fun powder slopes, and even some short technical chutes.” Overall, he notes, while “it’s hard to believe a region characterized as a desert can shelter some of North America’s finest skiing…such is the case with New Mexico ski resorts.” The state boasts high peaks, blues skies and individually-owned resorts: “Add abundant and novel off-slope culture, excellent [chile]-infused food, and New Mexico’s ‘Land of Mañana,’ or not-today attitude, and you have the makings of an excellent ski getaway.”

Buy local

Thanksgiving also heralds the start of the holiday shopping season. To help keep it local, the state tourism department and New Mexico Magazine have both published annual gift guides featuring more than 100 New Mexico-made products and experiences. The state’s New Mexico True Certified Holiday Gift Guide runs heavy on the art and food side, with items such as jewelry from Santa F’s Peyote Bird; Santa Fe Seasons salsa sampler; and Red River Brewery’s Silver King vodka. According to a news release, the state’s New Mexico True Certified program has supported more than 450 entrepreneurs, artists and merchants “through brand extensions and shop local campaigns since the program’s inception five years ago.” New Mexico Magazine’s gift guide also includes a sampling of Land of Enchantment shopping ideas, including gift certificates for Ojo Spa Resorts; books about the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta; and handcrafted goods from the Taos Bee Company. If you’d prefer a more hands-on local shopping experience, fear not: All of Santa Fe’s popular local holiday markets are just around the corner. Art Walk’s Winter Market takes place at noon on Dec. 3 at Santa Fe Brewing Company. String of Lights Holiday Market is scheduled for noon to 5 pm, Dec. 10-11 at Tumbleroot Brewery. And Vital Space’s Winter Market is scheduled from 4 to 9 pm, Friday, Dec. 16.

All clear

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 48 degrees and north wind around 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Thanksgiving will be partly sunny and a bit colder: a high temperature near 39 degrees and north wind 10 to 20 mph. As of now, no snow in the weekend forecast, just sunny days in the 40s, edging up toward 50 degrees on Sunday.

Thanks for reading! The Word returns Monday, Nov. 28, by which point she will have perused the NYTimes newly announced 100 notable books of 2022 (and if you plan to spend the long weekend reading, don’t miss SFR’s 2022 fiction contest winners).

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