Urban Waters Partnership

Middle Rio Grande/Albuquerque (New Mexico)

The Rio Grande at the Alameda Bridge at the end of May, 2013. Photo by Laura Paskus

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Urban Waters Voices: Middle Rio Grande

The Middle Rio Grande/Albuquerque Urban Waters Federal Partnership is co-chaired by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. There are also a number of other federal agencies engaged in projects with Tribal, State and local officials and community stakeholders.

Like many western river ecosystems, the Middle Rio Grande faces numerous challenges balancing competing needs within a finite water supply and resource constrains. Historical practices by tribes and immigrants to the Middle Rio Grande established the conditions residents have inherited. Exacerbated by climate change, long-term drought is changing conditions that affect natural and human communities as we strive to improve our precious Rio Grande.

The Middle Rio Grande/Albuquerque Urban Waters Federal Partnership will reconnect our urban communities, particularly overburdened or economically distressed communities, with the waterway. The partnership will do this by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts.

These projects will improve the communities’ water systems and promote economic, environmental and social benefits. Specifically, the Middle Rio Grande/Albuquerque Urban Waters Federal Partnership will support:

  • The development of the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, the first urban refuge in the Southwest
  • Numerous restoration projects along the Middle Rio Grande/Albuquerque
  • A pilot watershed-based storm water management program
  • A climate change project and transportation and economic development initiatives in the South Valley
  • Middle Rio Grande Designation Story

    The Middle Rio Grande / Albuquerque Urban Waters “Designated Location” was announced in June 2013 at a media event held in the Bosque west of the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Subsequently, there was a larger meeting in November 2013 at the Balloon Fiesta Park/Museum that involved meetings among the federal agencies, between the federal and local agencies, and a public meeting that included non-profit organizations, community organizations, and media. The initial federal co-leads were the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). However, in 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took over the role of local federal co-lead (EPA has no offices in New Mexico).

    At the June 2013 announcement, four projects were identified as Middle Rio Grande (MRG) Urban Waters projects:

    • Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge – US Fish & Wildlife Service; the Refuge was the focal point of a Department of the Interior initiative started in early 2012 that resulted in a July 2012, “Middle Rio Grande Conservation Initiative” (1)
    • Middle Rio Grande Restoration Project – US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); part of an on-going series of projects to re-engineer the relationship between the river and the Bosque that was disrupted by past flood control and drainage projects
    • MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) watershed-based permit – the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pilot project that involved 27 potential permittees as well as businesses, non-profit organizations, and state and local agencies
    • Bridge Boulevard Redevelopment Plan – Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Transportation (DOT); the corridor redevelopment runs from the river west to Coors Boulevard

    (1) The US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were co-lead agencies within the Department of the Interior in carrying out Secretary Salazar’s request for a MRG conservation plan by mid-year

List of Partners

  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • US Bureau of Reclamation
  • US Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • US Department of Transportation
  • US Economic Development Administration
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Geological Survey
  • US Indian Health Service
  • US National Park Service
  • US National Weather Service
  • Pueblo of Cochiti
  • Pueblo of Isleta
  • Pueblo of San Felipe
  • Pueblo of Sandia
  • Pueblo of Santa Ana
  • NM Department of Game and Fish
  • NM Department of Transportation
  • NM Environment Department
  • NM Interstate Stream Commission
  • NM State Land Office
  • NM State Forestry Division
  • NM State Parks Division

Subdivisions of the State

  • Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority
  • Mid-Region Council of Governments
  • City of Albuquerque
  • County of Bernalillo
  • City of Rio Rancho
  • City of Bernalillo
  • Ciudad Soil & Water Conservation District

Local Partnership Workplan