Getting Pumped

The Oct. 16 Council Meeting Dealt With Storm Drainage, And Not Much Else

Laura Sanchez
3 min read
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Often it’s the stuff you can’t see–the stuff you never think about–that turns your life upside down. Recently, a combination of late summer rains and inactive pumping stations damaged or destroyed many homes in the Barelas and Martineztown neighborhoods.

At the Oct. 16 meeting, city councilors unanimously approved bills allowing design and analysis to begin for upgrading the drainage and pumping systems that failed to protect Albuquerque’s Downtown Barelas and Martineztown residents.

Part of the flooding blame goes to geology and part to growth. Land in the Rio Grande Valley slopes from the crests of the Sandia and Manzano Mountains down to the Rio Grande, sending all runoff from rain or snow to the river. Water used to flow unimpeded down arroyos and across open land, soaking into the ground as it went.

Now, numerous natural and manmade barriers channel flows more heavily to some areas. Much of the ground is paved and built over so that less water soaks in along the route. The long-established neighborhoods near the railroad tracks bear the brunt of the runoff.

Council action began on Sept. 6 when Councilor Isaac Benton moved a bill calling for the administration to put the highest priority on fixing storm drainage problems. The bill, which passed unanimously, also required the administration to report back to the Council within 45 days. The September bill also called for working with the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Authority to define the separate responsibilities of the city and county, along with putting in place a system for monitoring and testing pumps and related infrastructure on a regular basis.

On Oct. 16, the Council approved Mayor Martin Chavez’ selection, on an emergency basis, of engineering firm Wilson and Company to come up with a plan to improve storm drainage, with a goal of completing the upgrades before the 2007 storm season.

The Council also approved the mayor’s emergency selection of Molzen-Corbin and Associates to study improvements and additions for the pumping stations that serve the area. Both bills passed unanimously.

Also at the Oct. 16 meeting, the Council revoked a permit for The Place, planned for the 3300 block of Central in the Nob Hill area. City departments agreed there had been numerous procedural errors in granting the permit, mostly involving off-street parking spaces. The project can go ahead if those issues are resolved. Bills postponed until the Nov. 6 meeting included Councilor Debbie O’Malley’s guidelines for "big box" store construction and Benton’s six-month moratorium on building in the Silver Hills neighborhood.
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