Reclamation's Albuquerque Area Office provides water and technical assistance for nineteen pueblos and three tribes, acequia systems, conservancy and irrigation districts, and cities in parts of Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.
If you live along the Rio Grande, Pecos River, Canadian River, or one of their tributaries, you are impacted by the daily decisions and actions of the Bureau of Reclamation's Albuquerque Area Office.
Many Reclamation employees are long-time residents of the communities in which we work; so we care about the environment and water just as you do. We integrate this concern and commitment to the community into our work.
Reclamation employees find solutions to lessen the impact of existing structures and past actions on the environment while delivering water to the customers. We research and develop environmentally friendly projects, integrating legal guidelines with community desires.
River and Facility Maintenance
We operate and maintain nine major dams with a combined reservoir storage capacity of 3.5 million acre feet, 28 miles of tunnels, and about 725 miles of river. Our Safety of Dams and Review of Operations and Maintenance programs assure the structural integrity and safe operations of all our facilities. Our River Maintenance program attempts to effectively transport flood flows and sediment while maintaining efficient deliveries of water to our customers.
The Bureau of Reclamation is authorized to maintain the Middle Rio Grande from Velarde, New Mexico to Caballo Reservoir under the Flood Control Acts of 1948 and 1950. River maintenance activities provide infrastructure maintenance to protect critical riverside facilities and property, improve water delivery to Elephant Butte Reservoir, prevent flooding, maintain valley drainage, and reduce riverbed aggradation. To meet Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirements, these activities frequently incorporate habitat enhancement features.The Albuquerque Area Office of the Bureau of Reclamation has extensive experience in Rio Grande river maintenance. In addition to traditional engineering methods, such as riprap placement, Reclamation has expertise in habitat restoration. Restoration options include channel widening, installation of gradient restoration facilities, bioengineered bank stabilization, placement of boulders and woody debris piles, terrace lowering, and a variety of additional techniques.
Planning is currently underway for several large-scale river maintenance projects that include environmental restoration. Regions of focus include the Albuquerque area and reaches above and below San Acacia Diversion Dam. These projects will include extensive habitat improvement features for endangered species, along with flood control and erosion protection.
As a responsible corporate community member, Reclamation collaborates with other organizations whenever possible. For example, Reclamation works with State of New Mexico offices, federal agencies, irrigation districts, cities, environmental groups, pueblos and tribes, and others to develop, fund and initiate plans to save endangered species, develop water operations models, and design and build projects, such as waste water reuse plants and subsurface drains.
Pueblos and tribes have a unique relationship with the federal government because of their sovereignty. Staff in Reclamation's Native American Affairs Program are knowledgeable about trust responsibility and tribal rights. We work with the tribes and pueblos to provide technical assistance and develop projects that serve their needs. Such projects include: river restoration, drainage improvement and rehabilitation of irrigation structures.
Endangered species are indicators of the health of the ecosystem and, in turn, how we are taking care of ourselves. Preservation of endangered species and ourselves requires more than water. As we rehabilitate and maintain structures, rivers, and lands, we are doing so in an environmentally sound manner.
For example, crews working along the Rio Grande are replacing exotic plant species with native plants, and returning the riverbed to its natural state - a wider, shallow, braided river with a sandy bottom. Native plants draw less water from the river, and the natural riverbed creates habitat for endangered species.
Reclamation has staff dedicated to promoting water conservation. We work closely with local conservation offices, irrigation districts, regional water planning councils, and educational programs. We financially support a number of water conservation projects such as: Xeriscaping, water education trailers, and water festivals.
Identification of cultural resources occurs before any construction project begins. Cultural resources identified include: petroglyphs, acequias, pithouses, historic military forts, and historic Reclamation-built structures such as the flume in Carlsbad. Reclamation works with the State or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer to preserve these resources and/or mitigate any damage.