The head of the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy made her way through central and northern New Mexico Monday to check out how $2 million from a federal clean water fund is being used. She applauded a flood control project that replaces the concrete used to line arroyos with things like boulders and native plants.
McCarthy says she started her day standing on the banks of an arroyo in Corrales just outside of Albuquerque. Recently the local flood control agency made the decision not to line the major drainage system with concrete, but to instead use rocks, vegetation and natural swales, or dips, in the land in order to slow moving water.
"We're trying to learn from nature instead of continuing to impose our man-made solutions, " explained McCarthy. "There are ways that we can see how the natural world deals with water runoff. We try to recognize that and build in into the system."
McCarthy said with intense drought plaguing the southwest and torrential rains brought on by climate change, it's vital to try and capture moisture where it falls. That way aquifers can be recharged rather than storm water being shot into the Rio Grande and whisked away downstream.
A project engineer says the final phase should be complete before next summer's monsoon rains.