This story is a staff report from The Paper.

The City of Santa Fe filed suit in the First Judicial District against the Santa Fe Country Club for breach of contract related to effluent water use and is asking the court to find that the Club has breached its contract for treated water.

The 60-year-old agreement shows the City has been providing free, treated effluent to the Santa Fe Country Club since 1959. In exchange for the treated effluent (up to 700,000 gallons per day), the contract requires public access to the Country Club with reduced greens fees. 

Over the lifetime of the contract, the City says it has given the Santa Fe County Club over five billion gallons of treated effluent, free of charge, with an approximate total value in the tens of millions of dollars. Since 1998, the City has provided approximately $7.6 million worth of treated effluent to the Santa Fe County Club. From 2018 through 2021, the Santa Fe County Club exceeded the 700,000 per day limit on 143 different days, occasionally even using more than three times its daily limit of treated effluent.  Over that time, the Santa Fe Country Club exceeded its daily allotment of water by over 22 million gallons.

The City says the contract no longer represents a fair agreement for Santa Fe ratepayers. The Code requires large effluent users to pay for effluent and limits contracts’ duration. The Country Club is using an exorbitant amount of water, especially during a drought, and city officials say it’s threatening the City’s ability to manage its water. 

Over the past decades and up to the present time, the City says it has fulfilled its obligations to the Country Club and has treated effluent totaling over five billion gallons.