Cochiti Dam and Lake is located on the Rio Grande mainstem approximately 50 miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Construction and operation of Cochiti Dam and Lake was authorized by PL 86-645, PL 534 as amended, Senate Document No. 97, and PL 88-293. The facility regulates Rio Grande flows for flood damage reduction and sediment management. The majority of lands associated with Cochiti Dam and Lake are held in trust by the United States for the beneficial owners, the Pueblo de Cochiti, a federally recognized Native American Tribe.
Operations at Cochiti Dam and Lake have become crucial to addressing regional water management and environmental issues. In recent Congressional testimony the Pueblo has pointed out that, although a significant amount of ecosystem research has been conducted in the area, little comprehensive synthesis has occurred especially as the Dam’s operations impact Tribal resources. As a result of its Native American Trust responsibilities, the Corps is required to protect Cochiti natural and cultural assets. Any such activities must be performed in cooperation with the Pueblo de Cochiti per Executive Order and Governmental policy (E.R. 1130-2-500, 530, 540; USACE, CECW-A, Policy Guidance Letter 57, 1998; ER 1105-2-100; Title 25: Chapter 14: II: 450a).
The US Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District and the Pueblo de Cochiti are conducting an array of studies, begun in Fiscal Year 2004, intended to characterize the interactions of Cochiti Dam and Lake with Tribal resources. The proposed studies, developed in consultation among the Corps, the Pueblo and other interested stakeholders, will provide a baseline against which the impacts of any future operational changes at the lake may be evaluated. The proposed studies include; Water Quality Studies, Sediment Studies, Biological Studies, Cultural Studies, Economic Impact Studies, Information Management/Mapping, Independent Technical Reviews, Supervision and Management.
The proposed study will clarify hydrologic interactions with local natural and cultural resources. The resulting information will provide three major benefits: 1) Federal and tribal resource managers will acquire crucial information necessary to evaluate changing operational demands, 2) the federal government will fulfill its obligatory Tribal trust responsibilities, and 3) the Pueblo de Cochiti will have the opportunity to enhance their capability in the area of resource management and regional water operations.