Rio Grande

Laura Paskus

An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human-caused climate change is real. And along with more heat, drought and wildfires, we are facing an increase in forced migration – people fleeing their home countries for U.S. borders when they lose their crops or conditions become unlivable. No More Normal host Khalil Ekulona spoke with environmental reporter Laura Paskus about how New Mexicans should be preparing for this future, especially when it comes to water use. She says the Albuquerque stretch of the Rio Grande is critically low and could even stop flowing this month.

Bert Benally

Let’s take a breath. In episode 12, we try to fend off that wild pandemic election news cycle we’ve been living inside of, which can feel like a deluge of disorganized tragedies and failures. And we put the focus on what’s hanging in the balance these next couple of weeks as we cast our ballots.

Leslie Granda-Hill / 2020

This week, we get into what has disappeared from our lives—good or bad—during the pandemic. Episode 2 is all about what’s going, going, gone, maybe for good. We learn of attempts to erase people from the Census. We talk to Sen. Martin Heinrich about the erosion of our civil liberties. We reflect on what’s fading from our relationships and mental wellness. We hear from a COVID-19 survivor, so the realities of the virus don’t slip away. We examine the consciousness of community and the loss of a collective future with an international futurist. We reflect on a disappearing chicken and what life was like pre-pandemic. And we try to see and hear a vanishing Rio Grande.

SUNfoto by Austin Fisher

The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it’s done funding the cleanup of a superfund site of toxic chemicals in Española, saying that after 10 years, it’s no longer legally obligated to keep trying. The plume is as big as 75 American football fields, spreads under downtown Española, and reaches the neighboring Santa Clara Pueblo and the Rio Grande.

User Eustatic via Creative Commons

Mosquito season is going to be bad this year and one of the ways the city of Albuquerque is tackling the problem is by giving out a fish for people to put in birdbaths, ponds and ditches. But the fish can pose a risk to aquatic ecosystems.

Let's Talk Clean Water Act In New Mexico

Jul 11, 2019
All2humanuk via Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Let's Talk New Mexico 7/11 8a:  The Trump Administration has proposed a revision to the Clean Water Act that would exclude many of New Mexico’s ephemeral waterways from protection. Environmental advocates say that this would have a harmful impact on the state’s watersheds, but critics say the move would undo government overreach under the Obama Administration.

How would this impact your area of the state? Do you work in mining or agriculture? How your operations be affected? Are you concerned about water pollution? Email LetsTalk@KUNM.org, tweet using the hashtag #LetsTalkNM or call in live.

Let's Talk New Mexico's Wet Spring

May 22, 2019
OpenThreads via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/23 8a: Higher than average rainfall and snowpack means we're experiencing one of its wettest springs in decades. The Rio Grande is running ten times higher than it was at this time during last year's drought. So much water increases flood risks and challenges us to remain conservation minded. Has all the rain changed your plans for farming or planting gardens? How are you remaining water conscious? Do you plan to go river rafting or sailing on one of our state’s lakes this year? Email LetsTalk@KUNM.org, tweet us using the hashtag #LetsTalkNM or call in live during the show.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

People around the state are used to seeing the flows in local rivers fluctuate. But this year, sandbars have started to widen and connect, and riverbanks are growing by yards. In some places down South, it’s completely dry for miles. KUNM caught up with journalist Laura Paskus of the New Mexico Political Report in a dry patch of the Rio Grande on Thursday morning. 

Laura Paskus

As high winds whipped dust, Siberian elm seeds and recycling bins around Albuquerque Thursday afternoon, dozens of people filed into the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque office to hear the agency’s 2018 forecast for the Rio Grande.

“I’ll be the bearer of bad news,” said Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Manager Jennifer Faler. “This is the most extreme shift we’ve had from one operating plan meeting to another.”

Let's Talk Water Rights And The Rio Grande

Mar 6, 2018
Paul Tashjan, USFWS

Let's Talk New Mexico 3/8 8a. Call 277-5866. A U.S. Supreme Court case could threaten New Mexico’s use of water from the Rio Grande. This week, justices allowed the federal government to join in a case brought by Texas, which alleges New Mexico has been taking more than its fair share and not letting enough flow downstream.

Trees

Mar 6, 2018
Wiki, Creative Commons

The Children's Hour, Sat 3/10 9a: Trees do a lot more for us than we ever do for them. This week we'll learn more about the mighty cottonwood, and other trees of New Mexico. Plus we'll have a live performance from High Desert Pipes and Drums to get us ready for St. Patrick's Day. 

In Deep Water

Jan 10, 2018
Laura Paskus

As severe drought returns to New Mexico, farmers and skiers alike fret over the state’s lack of snow. Meanwhile, on a cold, cloudy Monday morning in Washington, DC, attorneys for New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and the United States government grappled over the muddy waters of the Rio Grande.

New Mexico Hits The High Court On The Rio Grande

Jan 8, 2018
Laura Paskus

On a frigid Monday morning in the nation’s capital, as most of the press corps turned its attention toward a water dispute between Florida and Georgia, attorneys for New Mexico and Colorado tried to fend off the ability of the United States government to protect its water interests on the Rio Grande.

Wiki, Creative Commons

Thc Children's Hour: Learn about the porcupines of the Rio Grande Valley with biologist Dan Shaw and some of his team of student scientists. These elusive furry rodents are hanging out along the river, and are often misunderstood and feared. Porcupines! Originally broadcast November 11, 2017 with music by Zee Avi, Bayou Seco, Artichoke  and Trepsi. 

Ancient Albuquerque

Jul 12, 2017
Wiki, Creative Commons

7/15, Sat 9a, The Children's Hour: The middle Rio Grande valley has been home to people for over 10,000 years. Find out about ancient Albuquerque with our guest, archaeologist Dr. Matt Schmader. With great music, a family events calendar, the KUNM Kids Birthday Club, and so much more. Join us!

Albuquerque Tightens Water Pollution Oversight

Aug 12, 2016
Robin JP via Flickr / creative commons license

Pollution flowing out of Albuquerque in the Rio Grande is a problem for Isleta Pueblo and other downstream communities. Now the city is boosting oversight of water contaminants. 

Rio Grande Hydrologists Worried After July Heat

Aug 3, 2016
Laura Paskus/New Mexico In Depth

During the irrigation season in New Mexico, the Rio Grande is allowed to go completely dry in some stretches. Even Saturday’s intense thunderstorm in Albuquerque hasn’t sustained flows in some regions of the river south of the city.

Rio Grande Restoration 'No Silver Bullet'

Dec 21, 2015
Rita Daniels

Cochiti Dam is one of the largest earthen dams in the country. The Rio Grande was transformed after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished building it in the 1970s.

Some communities downstream experienced serious negative impacts, and the river's ecosystem suffered.

But a lawsuit may have federal water managers shifting the way they manipulate water flows out of the dam to support wildlife.

Seeking Clarity On Storm Runoff

May 27, 2015
Ed Williams

It’s a peaceful scene on the banks of the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque, with ducks paddling on the slow moving current and the breeze rustling the willows at the water’s edge. But not all is well with the river, says Rich Schrader of the conservation group River Source. He’s out analyzing water samples with students, and there’ve been some troubling results—mainly, the turbidity, or murkiness, of the water.

Feds Examine Albuquerque Stormwater

May 20, 2015
Ed Williams

Stormwater is a major source of pollution in the Rio Grande. The U.S. Geological Survey released a nine-year study of stormwater in the Albuquerque area last week, finding high concentrations of pollutants in the city’s arroyos.

DOE To Spend Millions On LANL Stormwater Controls

May 15, 2015
Andy Magee via Flickr

Some of the money from the Department of Energy’s settlement with New Mexico following a radiation leak at a nuclear waste storage facility last year will go to address stormwater issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

KUNM Reporting Series

Apr 15, 2015

The Rio Grande runs through three states, and all along the way communities use the river’s waters for drinking, crop irrigation, and for Native American religious ceremonies. But with New Mexico’s biggest urban centers and military bases—and the substantial pollution they generate—near to the riverbanks, how safe is the Rio Grande for people and wildlife?

No Fines For Sewage Overflow

Apr 9, 2015
Ed Williams

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority announced Wednesday that it’s building more backup safety systems at the wastewater treatment plant following a massive spill of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande.

Power Surge Sends Sewage Into Rio Grande

Mar 4, 2015
Ed Williams-KUNM

Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant spilled nearly 6 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande last Friday. Public Health New Mexico’s Ed Williams reports there was an equipment failure at one of the plant’s pumping facilities.

Officials with the Southside Wastewater Reclamation Plant say there was a spike in power during last week’s heavy snowstorm. That power spike disabled a pump station.

Plant Operations Manager Charles Leder says backup systems should have protected the facility from power fluctuations.

Ed Williams

We recently published the first two stories in an ongoing series on pollution and the Rio Grande in which we plan to explore a range of topics and issues.

Rita Daniels

Businesses, military bases and city utilities have dozens of permits to release pollution into the Rio Grande watershed. Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant is one of the biggest sources of discharges into the river.

The plant has had trouble with regulators and neighboring communities in the past, but they’re making some headway. 

On a recent sunny day in Albuquerque’s South Valley, water utility workers bent over a grate taking readings of the city’s treated wastewater as it rushes from the Southside Water Reclamation Plant into the Rio Grande.

City Council Halts Bosque Development

Feb 18, 2015
Sierra Club

UPDATE 6a: Albuquerque city councilors voted to suspend construction to widen a trail in the bosque Wednesday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Mayor Richard Berry could veto the measure.

Last week, the city began cutting a six-foot wide path to replace a narrower foot path as part of a development plan for the forest along the Rio Grande.

Opponents say the city ignored public input and are calling for more time to come to consensus on a bosque plan. 

Ed Williams-KUNM

 

Editor's Note: After we published this story, a spokesperson for Kirtland Air Force Base wrote with a series of objections to the story. Kirtland did not allege any factual inaccuracy in our story but we did make a change to reflect that Kirtland's lead discharges into the Rio Grande watershed are not in violation of environmental laws. You can read all of their objections and our responses here

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Albuquerque Installing New Permeable Parking Lot

Dec 22, 2014
elycefeliz via flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency is working with the City of Albuquerque to install a state of the art parking lot at a municipal facility that will reduce pollution flowing into the Rio Grande. 

The city is spending $61,000 to replace an old parking lot at Pino Yards, a municipal maintenance and fueling facility. The project is part of a settlement with the EPA, coming after toxic runoff from the site drained into the Rio Grande, resulting in violations of the Clean Water Act.

EPA Chief Visits NM, Praises Flood Control Efforts

Sep 15, 2014
Floyd Muad'Dib via Flickr

 

 

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.

 

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