KUNM

Rio Grande

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

People around the state are used to seeing the flows in local rivers fluctuate. But this year, sandbars have started to widen and connect, and riverbanks are growing by yards. In some places down South, it’s completely dry for miles. KUNM caught up with journalist Laura Paskus of the New Mexico Political Report in a dry patch of the Rio Grande on Thursday morning. 

Laura Paskus

As high winds whipped dust, Siberian elm seeds and recycling bins around Albuquerque Thursday afternoon, dozens of people filed into the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque office to hear the agency’s 2018 forecast for the Rio Grande.

“I’ll be the bearer of bad news,” said Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Manager Jennifer Faler. “This is the most extreme shift we’ve had from one operating plan meeting to another.”

Let's Talk Water Rights And The Rio Grande

Mar 6, 2018
Paul Tashjan, USFWS

Let's Talk New Mexico 3/8 8a. Call 277-5866. A U.S. Supreme Court case could threaten New Mexico’s use of water from the Rio Grande. This week, justices allowed the federal government to join in a case brought by Texas, which alleges New Mexico has been taking more than its fair share and not letting enough flow downstream.

Trees

Mar 6, 2018
Wiki, Creative Commons

The Children's Hour, Sat 3/10 9a: Trees do a lot more for us than we ever do for them. This week we'll learn more about the mighty cottonwood, and other trees of New Mexico. Plus we'll have a live performance from High Desert Pipes and Drums to get us ready for St. Patrick's Day. 

In Deep Water

Jan 10, 2018
Laura Paskus

As severe drought returns to New Mexico, farmers and skiers alike fret over the state’s lack of snow. Meanwhile, on a cold, cloudy Monday morning in Washington, DC, attorneys for New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and the United States government grappled over the muddy waters of the Rio Grande.

New Mexico Hits The High Court On The Rio Grande

Jan 8, 2018
Laura Paskus

On a frigid Monday morning in the nation’s capital, as most of the press corps turned its attention toward a water dispute between Florida and Georgia, attorneys for New Mexico and Colorado tried to fend off the ability of the United States government to protect its water interests on the Rio Grande.

Wiki, Creative Commons

Thc Children's Hour: Learn about the porcupines of the Rio Grande Valley with biologist Dan Shaw and some of his team of student scientists. These elusive furry rodents are hanging out along the river, and are often misunderstood and feared. Porcupines! Originally broadcast November 11, 2017 with music by Zee Avi, Bayou Seco, Artichoke  and Trepsi. 

Ancient Albuquerque

Jul 12, 2017
Wiki, Creative Commons

7/15, Sat 9a, The Children's Hour: The middle Rio Grande valley has been home to people for over 10,000 years. Find out about ancient Albuquerque with our guest, archaeologist Dr. Matt Schmader. With great music, a family events calendar, the KUNM Kids Birthday Club, and so much more. Join us!

Albuquerque Tightens Water Pollution Oversight

Aug 12, 2016
Robin JP via Flickr / creative commons license

Pollution flowing out of Albuquerque in the Rio Grande is a problem for Isleta Pueblo and other downstream communities. Now the city is boosting oversight of water contaminants. 

Laura Paskus/New Mexico In Depth

During the irrigation season in New Mexico, the Rio Grande is allowed to go completely dry in some stretches. Even Saturday’s intense thunderstorm in Albuquerque hasn’t sustained flows in some regions of the river south of the city.

Rio Grande Restoration 'No Silver Bullet'

Dec 21, 2015
Rita Daniels

Cochiti Dam is one of the largest earthen dams in the country. The Rio Grande was transformed after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished building it in the 1970s.

Some communities downstream experienced serious negative impacts, and the river's ecosystem suffered.

But a lawsuit may have federal water managers shifting the way they manipulate water flows out of the dam to support wildlife.

Seeking Clarity On Storm Runoff

May 27, 2015
Ed Williams

It’s a peaceful scene on the banks of the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque, with ducks paddling on the slow moving current and the breeze rustling the willows at the water’s edge. But not all is well with the river, says Rich Schrader of the conservation group River Source. He’s out analyzing water samples with students, and there’ve been some troubling results—mainly, the turbidity, or murkiness, of the water.

Feds Examine Albuquerque Stormwater

May 20, 2015
Ed Williams

Stormwater is a major source of pollution in the Rio Grande. The U.S. Geological Survey released a nine-year study of stormwater in the Albuquerque area last week, finding high concentrations of pollutants in the city’s arroyos.

DOE To Spend Millions On LANL Stormwater Controls

May 15, 2015
Andy Magee via Flickr

Some of the money from the Department of Energy’s settlement with New Mexico following a radiation leak at a nuclear waste storage facility last year will go to address stormwater issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

KUNM Reporting Series

Apr 15, 2015

The Rio Grande runs through three states, and all along the way communities use the river’s waters for drinking, crop irrigation, and for Native American religious ceremonies. But with New Mexico’s biggest urban centers and military bases—and the substantial pollution they generate—near to the riverbanks, how safe is the Rio Grande for people and wildlife?

No Fines For Sewage Overflow

Apr 9, 2015
Ed Williams

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority announced Wednesday that it’s building more backup safety systems at the wastewater treatment plant following a massive spill of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande.

Power Surge Sends Sewage Into Rio Grande

Mar 4, 2015
Ed Williams-KUNM

Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant spilled nearly 6 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande last Friday. Public Health New Mexico’s Ed Williams reports there was an equipment failure at one of the plant’s pumping facilities.

Officials with the Southside Wastewater Reclamation Plant say there was a spike in power during last week’s heavy snowstorm. That power spike disabled a pump station.

Plant Operations Manager Charles Leder says backup systems should have protected the facility from power fluctuations.

Ed Williams

We recently published the first two stories in an ongoing series on pollution and the Rio Grande in which we plan to explore a range of topics and issues.

Rita Daniels

Businesses, military bases and city utilities have dozens of permits to release pollution into the Rio Grande watershed. Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant is one of the biggest sources of discharges into the river.

The plant has had trouble with regulators and neighboring communities in the past, but they’re making some headway. 

On a recent sunny day in Albuquerque’s South Valley, water utility workers bent over a grate taking readings of the city’s treated wastewater as it rushes from the Southside Water Reclamation Plant into the Rio Grande.

City Council Halts Bosque Development

Feb 18, 2015
Sierra Club

UPDATE 6a: Albuquerque city councilors voted to suspend construction to widen a trail in the bosque Wednesday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Mayor Richard Berry could veto the measure.

Last week, the city began cutting a six-foot wide path to replace a narrower foot path as part of a development plan for the forest along the Rio Grande.

Opponents say the city ignored public input and are calling for more time to come to consensus on a bosque plan. 

Ed Williams-KUNM

 

Editor's Note: After we published this story, a spokesperson for Kirtland Air Force Base wrote with a series of objections to the story. Kirtland did not allege any factual inaccuracy in our story but we did make a change to reflect that Kirtland's lead discharges into the Rio Grande watershed are not in violation of environmental laws. You can read all of their objections and our responses here

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Albuquerque Installing New Permeable Parking Lot

Dec 22, 2014
elycefeliz via flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency is working with the City of Albuquerque to install a state of the art parking lot at a municipal facility that will reduce pollution flowing into the Rio Grande. 

The city is spending $61,000 to replace an old parking lot at Pino Yards, a municipal maintenance and fueling facility. The project is part of a settlement with the EPA, coming after toxic runoff from the site drained into the Rio Grande, resulting in violations of the Clean Water Act.

EPA Chief Visits NM, Praises Flood Control Efforts

Sep 15, 2014
Floyd Muad'Dib via Flickr

 

 

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy made her way through central and northern New Mexico Monday to check out how $2 million from a federal clean water fund is being used.  She applauded a flood control project that replaces the concrete used to line arroyos with things like boulders and native plants.

 

US Bureau of Reclamation

A legal battle over water in the lower Rio Grande has New Mexico accusing the federal government of trying to take control of the state’s groundwater.

In a filing in the Third District Court in Las Cruces recently, the Bureau of Reclamation said it should be able to pump groundwater when it needs to deliver water in the Rio Grande to downstream users, such as farmers.

That raised the hackles of New Mexico state legislators, and others, including the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer. That office controls the state’s groundwater.

More New Mexicans to rely on Colorado River water

Jul 23, 2012
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation / Creative Commons

A study by the federal government shows that New Mexico is expected to see its population that uses the Colorado River Basin for water grow from nearly 1.5 million people today to between 2 million and 3 million by 2060.

That's according to the latest data from a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation study.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/OhHnQI) that New Mexico and the other states that depend on the Colorado River Basin for water face a growing gap between how much water nature provides and how much people want to use.

Laura Paskus/KUNM

The monsoon rains arrived this month, but it’s still hot and dry in New Mexico.

The ongoing drought is placing stress on the state’s rivers and streams, including the Rio Grande. And while cities and farmers still receive their shares of water, each summer, one user gets left out—the Rio Grande itself. Like it has every summer for the past decade, the Rio Grande downstream of Albuquerque is drying.

Feds seek comments on flycatcher habitat proposal

Jul 12, 2012
Jim Rorabaugh/USFWS

The public has two months to weigh in on a proposal to revise critical habitat for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher in six states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified more than 2,100 stream miles in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico as part of the habitat proposal.

The agency says about 900 miles are currently being considered for exclusion from the final designation, while two more locations in Arizona could be added.

Utility inadvertently diverted irrigation water

Jul 5, 2012
Jesse Shuck

The water utility in Albuquerque inadvertently diverted farmers' irrigation water from the Rio Grande for more than a week in late June and used it for the city's drinking water supplies.

The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/MXVOs1) that John Stomp, chief operating officer of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility, acknowledged the improper diversions and agreed to pay back the farmers.