Wildfires threaten New Mexico acequias - Albuquerque Journal

Wildfires threaten New Mexico acequias

Isaac Leyba shovels sediment from the Acequia del Alto Al Norte north of Mora in early April. New Mexico water officials are studying how this year’s wildfires could impact acequias across the state. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Wildfires this year have scorched thousands of acres in northern New Mexico.

The fires also threaten acequias that provide water to hundreds of farmers and ranchers, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission officials said Thursday.

The panel voted to direct $100,000 from a state Legislature special appropriation to assess wildfire effects on acequias and community ditches.

Commissioner Paula Garcia recently returned to her Mora farm after fleeing the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire.

“The fire is absolutely devastating for this region of the state,” said Garcia, who is also executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association. “I’m seeing the burn scars every day on very steep slopes. And it’s a serious public safety issue as we look now towards the monsoons.”

Even minimal rainfall could send ash into the acequias that divert water from northern New Mexico rivers and streams.

Acequias in or near the fire zones are also at risk of erosion, floods and debris flow, said ISC director Rolf Schmidt-Petersen.

“Maybe as many as 100 acequias are within the footprint, or close to that, of just the Hermits/Peak Calf Canyon Fire, to say nothing about Cerro Pelado, and some of the other fires that are out there, including Ruidoso,” he said.

The acequia group is working with federal agencies and soil and water conservation districts to ensure that acequias are included in post-fire maps and project plans.

The association is also hiring a disaster and recovery coordinator specifically for wildfire response efforts.

Commissioner Phoebe Suina, a hydrologist who studies burned watersheds, said the massive fires will likely influence the health of rivers, streams and acequias for years.

“We are going to have to juggle the impacts and address the impacts, especially for downstream communities and infrastructure,” Suina said.

The commission said the money will fund a preliminary assessment.

More money could be directed to specific acequia projects once agencies finish collecting data about fire impacts.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Wildfires threaten New Mexico acequias


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
A numbers game: How UNM has shifted toward Title ...
ABQnews Seeker
As the nation celebrated 50 years ... As the nation celebrated 50 years of Title IX, the University of New Mexico is still trying to add opportunities for female athletes.
2
Man fatally shot in SE ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
A man was fatally shot Saturday ... A man was fatally shot Saturday evening in Southeast Albuquerque. Lt. Ray Del Greco, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said police responded sometime before 6:30 ...
3
Keller: City ‘holding the line during difficult times’
ABQnews Seeker
Mayor cites Rail Yards redevelopment, planned ... Mayor cites Rail Yards redevelopment, planned Rail Trail as part of plan to improve Downtown
4
Supporting New Mexico start-ups is key to long-term prosperity
ABQnews Seeker
I'm in the rare position of ... I'm in the rare position of being both an angel investor and a recipient of angel investor fun ...
5
Solar systems executive to chair ABQ chamber board
ABQnews Seeker
Veteran solar industry executive Peter Lorenz ... Veteran solar industry executive Peter Lorenz will become the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerc ...
6
‘Joe was a force’: dad slain days after completing ...
ABQnews Seeker
Bike shop, relatives offering reward for ... Bike shop, relatives offering reward for bike and sentimental quilt stolen from Garcia's apartment
7
APD investigating suspicious death along bosque trail
ABQnews Seeker
A man was found dead and ... A man was found dead and partially decomposed along the bosque trail Saturday morning in Northwest Albuquerque. Lt. Ray Del Greco, an Albuquerque police ...
8
Top Workplaces' special award recipients
ABQnews Seeker
Top Workplaces’ special award recipients were ... Top Workplaces’ special award recipients were chosen based on standout scores for employee responses to specific survey statements. Leadership Awards Large employer: Joe Christian, ...
9
Behavioral health group is No. 5 small employer in ...
ABQnews Seeker
Q&A with Kathleen Karimi, co-founder of ... Q&A with Kathleen Karimi, co-founder of Behavior Change Institute