Home New mexico real estate New program to help keep arroyos clear

New program to help keep arroyos clear

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Albuquerque North Floodway can go from zero to four feet of water in about 90 seconds.

“This channel is capable of moving a lot of water very quickly and that’s why it’s so dangerous,” said Jerry Lovato, AMAFCA’s executive engineer. “It doesn’t have to be raining on your head for water to flow through this channel.”

The canal drains approximately 100 square miles of the city. It can climb up to ten feet.

“There will be water in this channel and we want people to be safe, Lovato said.

The Ditch and Water Safety Task Force launched a new effort this summer to keep ditches clear, following the deadliest summer in recent city history in 2021. A total of four people have washed away in the canal, three of them in one day.

“We are committed to trying to reduce these numbers or eliminate these numbers as best we can,” said Willie West, AMAFCA’s property manager.

They identified hotspots in the system where people tend to camp. When the National Weather Service issues a storm warning, a group will go to hot spots to check if anyone is there. If so, the group will encourage them to leave as soon as possible.

The task force created the “Ditches are Deadly” program in the 1990s to help keep children off the arroyos, but now they’re focusing on a different population.

“Over the past five years, the people we’ve unfortunately lost in the ditches were between 21 and 33 years old,” West said.

There have been discussions in the past about adding sensors and an alarm system to notify people when water is coming, but that’s just an idea at this point.

“Unfortunately, this is an extremely tech-driven, challenging project,” West said. “I hope one day that will happen because it will make our system much safer if we can alert people that water is coming.”

Leaders say the amount of trash in arroyos and canals right now is also a big concern. Glass, needles or stones and other waste can cause a major hazard.