US Army Corps of Engineers
Albuquerque District

Tour for Congress Staffers Strengthens Partnerships

Published Sept. 1, 2011
After introductions and an explanation of the Middle Rio Grande Collaborative Program and Rio Grande Water Compact, the physical tour began on Day two at the Corps' Abiquiu Lake Project.The first stop was Abiquiu’s Diversion Outlook where participants heard a presentation by Mr. Fred Vigil, Director of the Rio Chama Acequia Association.

After introductions and an explanation of the Middle Rio Grande Collaborative Program and Rio Grande Water Compact, the physical tour began on Day two at the Corps' Abiquiu Lake Project.The first stop was Abiquiu’s Diversion Outlook where participants heard a presentation by Mr. Fred Vigil, Director of the Rio Chama Acequia Association.

The tour concluded that day by affording  participants an understanding of the Rio Grande from inside the river, as the entire retinue entered rafts on the Rio Chama.

The tour concluded that day by affording participants an understanding of the Rio Grande from inside the river, as the entire retinue entered rafts on the Rio Chama.

The District had the unique opportunity of collaborating with other federal and state water management agencies to provide a thorough field briefing to New Mexico’s congressional staff members during the week of Aug. 8. 

Mr. Estevan Lopez of the Interstate Stream Commission received a letter from Senator Jeff Bingaman June 30 requesting a tour for his staff to better understand New Mexico’s water resources infrastructure, activities and issues within the Middle Rio Grande.

The letter inspired employees of the Corps of Engineers, Interstate Stream Commission, Office of the State Engineer, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, State of New Mexico, City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority to conduct a tour for staff from New Mexico’s federal delegation to demonstrate the effects and the relationship of the drought in New Mexico verses the demand for water throughout the Rio Grande Basin.

Besides allowing participants to meet each other and learn about the issues, the tour enabled employees of the various agencies to compare and discuss individual challenges and issues within their various jurisdictions.

“This [trip] increased interagency communication and will lead to a better leveraging of the minimal federal resources in these lean times,” said Kristopher Schafer, chief of the District’s Planning Section.  “Furthermore, these coordinated actions within the Rio Grande corridor will benefit stakeholders, the environment, the endangered species and the citizens of New Mexico.”

Schafer said the trip was action-packed and covered numerous projects on the Rio Grande, from north to south, during a four-day period.