At a Glance

Advanced, natural treatment systems process the community’s wastewater while providing a clean, steady supply of reclaimed water to irrigate public area landscapes while also supporting widespread grassland restoration activities by providing rotational establishment-period irrigation.

Project Description

Located in a beautiful but fragile high-desert area with limited water resources, the 13,522-acre Galisteo Basin Preserve is a unique project that combines land conservation and stewardship with community development. The initiative provides high-quality inclusive housing for approximately 300 moderate-income households in Santa Fe County while also preserving more than 13,000 acres of open space and helping to restore 12 miles of riparian habitat.

Rather than subdividing the property into widely dispersed ranchettes that would threaten local resources and ecology, the nonprofit community development organization Commonweal Conservancy envisioned a thoughtful, stewardship-oriented community that will be a new model of environmentally responsible, mixed-use, and mixed-income development. The village plan incorporates new urbanist principles, clustering most of the homes on only a small portion of the Preserve. The villages’ construction standards and design, which are based on progressive energy and water efficiency principles, exemplify the values and principles of low-impact, resource-efficient, sustainable development.

A major goal for the project is the efficient use of water resources, with infrastructure designed to use reclaimed water for site restoration, regeneration, irrigation, and reuse in the buildings. To help ensure the efficient use of water resources, Commonweal Conservancy turned to Biohabitats for help early in the planning process. Biohabitats provided engineering services for an onsite wastewater treatment and collection system that would provide robust treatment and high quality reclaimed effluent  suitable for reuse and meet New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) ‘Class 1B’ effluent standards.

Biohabitats designed a wastewater treatment system on a centralized treatment site at the lower end of the property which has been permitted by NMED. The housing portion of the project is currently pending construction based upon market forces.



Southwest Basin & Range

Expertise Areas

Infrastructure, Water


Commonweal Conservancy


Santa Fe County, New Mexico, United States