Flood of money can stop literal flooding in our neighborhoods

We have been following (the Journal’s) excellent coverage of the congressional infrastructure legislation and the N.M. legislative windfalls that could add to that. The city’s Decade Plan for Capital Improvement Projects should also be included in that conversation.

One need that is usually left in the shadows is flooding. (The Sept. 5 Sunday Journal) editorial mentioned the flooding in Rio Rancho.

Well, we have flooding right here in the heart of Albuquerque Council District 7. It has penetrated homes and flooded substantial property in the neighborhoods called Mile Hi and Pueblo Alto.

Mile Hi, where we live, suffered two serious and somewhat scary flooding events in less than a month, one on May 31 and a second on July 20.

Every time we hear thunder now, we worry that another even worse event may roar through our streets. We have entered an age of climate change fueled, in our case, by the monsoon moisture.

The leaders of the McDuffie-Twin Parks neighborhood, which contains the Twin Parks City Park, have spent nearly four years trying to fend off a joint city/AMAFCA attempt to construct a huge stormwater detention pit in their superb Twin Parks City Park. This is an example of a misdirected flood mitigation strategy that targets over a dozen green spaces in the NE Heights, including Twin Parks, Alvarado Park, Jerry Cline Park, Mark Twain Elementary and other spaces essential in the city’s older fabric for urban relief, what the Japanese call “nature bathing.”

That plan has already caused far too much conflict and delay. A fresh start is needed, more neighborhood- centered and more fully scoped out with residents. Some part of those new infrastructure funds should be used to craft that new plan.

Concerned neighbors have organized into an ad hoc group called “Stormwater Drainage Management Team.”

We have reached out to our city councilor and her staff with generally positive results, and expect a joint study including Pueblo Alto in the near future.

We have also toured (with) several of the candidates for D-7, showing them in detail the flooding route and one major source of the stormwater runoff for Mile Hi: Fair Plaza Shopping Center at Lomas and San Pedro. On-site stormwater mitigation measures, which should be a win-win for all parties, have been suggested, but a recent meeting between city staff and Fair Plaza owners failed to reach even preliminary agreement. A new approach is needed, including serious consideration of the capacity of major drains under San Pedro and San Mateo.

Our map also shows how our stormwater surges under the San Mateo sound/art wall, rushes across the four northbound lanes, and has caused accidents from hydroplaning as recently as May 31.

Finally, flooding in the NE Heights and citywide raises important social justice issues. Residents who have suffered worst from flooding may tend to be found in lower-income areas.

The new infrastructure legislation packages from federal, state and city governments offer a great opportunity to finally tame the many-headed hydra of flooding in the city. Let’s get it right this time.

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