Current threats & challenges

The Santolina Master Plan is a proposed development that intends to build 37,000 houses and industrial buildings on 13, 850 acres of the Southwest Mesa. Developers estimate a population of 95,000 people – almost the size of Rio Rancho. In other words, developers propose to build a new city and put additional pressure on our already strained water system.


After concerns were raised in neighborhood association meetings, a core group emerged and began to protest the master plan. The South Valley community continues to stand against the Santolina development with the following concerns:


  • Raised taxes for all residents would funnel funding away from existing community needs.

  • Construction needs would require an estimated 14 million gallons of water per day.

  • Construction needs would irreversibly deplete the underground water of the Rio Grande Basin.

  • Wells in the North & South Valleys would be depleted by the massive demands for water.

  • Disturbances of geologic sand dunes would increase exposure to blowing sand and pose negative health risks.

  • San Juan Chama water is completely allocated. Santolina would require senior water rights to be purchased from farmers in the Rio Grande Basin.


Our organization is proud to be a part of the Contra Santolina Working Group. This group is an alliance of local organizations, neighborhood associations, and community members who understand that water is sacred. Our organization has taken a primary role in this group, to conduct research on the Santolina Master Plan and manage communications on the issue. The Contra Santolina Working Group has proven the power of unity.