ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The District and Zia Pueblo entered into a watershed assessment agreement March 9, 2016, under Section 203 of the Tribal Partnership Program.
District Commander Lt. Col. Patrick Dagon and Zia Governor Jerome Lucero signed the agreement in which the District will study the Jemez River watershed and develop a watershed management plan for the Pueblo. This is the sixth watershed assessment agreement the District has signed with a Pueblo, and "the first to be signed under the single phase project structure mandated by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014," said Corinne O'Hara, the District's former Tribal Partnership program manager.
The assessment will address the public concerns expressed by the Pueblo including habitat degradation, water availability and agricultural uses, and sedimentation and erosion problems within the Jemez River watershed, located in Sandoval County, New Mexico. The watershed assessment will also scope out a few projects that could be done in the future based on the Pueblo’s priorities and the assessment findings.
“The Zia Section 203 is Albuquerque's most recent success in expanding our partnerships among Native American communities. Such projects fulfill the Nation's trust responsibilities to indigenous governments while assisting those governments to address their water resource challenges,” said Ron Kneebone, program director with the Corps’ Tribal Nations Technical Center of Expertise in Albuquerque.
Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 provides the Corps of Engineers with authority for water-related planning activities to identify and prioritize water resources related projects that will substantially benefit Indian tribes, and are located primarily within Indian country or in proximity to Alaska Native villages. These studies address flood damage reduction, environmental restoration and protection, and preservation of cultural and natural resources.
Zia Pueblo is located on the Jemez River about 30 miles north of Albuquerque. The Pueblo is widely known for its Zia Sun Symbol. The sacred symbol of a red circle with groups of rays pointing in four directions is painted on ceremonial vases, drawn on the ground around campfires, and used to introduce newborns to the sun. It is also featured on the Flag of New Mexico and in the design of both the New Mexico State Capitol.