WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing $7 million for construction of the Rio Grande Floodway project near Socorro, $1 million for watershed assessment in the Rio Grande Basin, and $200,000 to fund the Rio Grande Environmental Management Program for the first time. These projects will prevent flooding between San Acacia and the Bosque del Apache, study salinity management issues, and begin to develop a data-driven approach to collaboration on watershed activities at all governmental levels throughout the Rio Grande Basin.
The new funding for the Rio Grande Floodway project will help continue building the initial five miles of structural levee in the Socorro segment of the project that will eventually replace approximately 43 miles of spoil bank levee along the western bank of the Rio Grande. This will help prevent flooding in Socorro and also protect the Bureau of Reclamation’s Low Flow Conveyance Channel.
The watershed assessment project is currently investigating salinity management issues south of San Acacia and along the Rio Grande, and also along the Pecos River from Santa Rosa to its confluence with the Rio Grande. The study is expected to be completed in 2017.
The Rio Grande Environmental Management Program aims to create a basin-wide database to be used by stakeholders to track ongoing activities across federal, state, tribal, local and international entities to improve coordination, avoid duplication, and support climate change studies within the basin. Getting the program up and running has been a priority for Udall and Heinrich since they reauthorized it in the Water Resources Development Act of 2014.
"As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ve been working to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers funds New Mexico water projects like these to help prevent dangerous flooding, and keep water quality high and sustainable for future generations,” Udall said. "The Rio Grande Floodway project is designed to protect Socorro and key irrigation infrastructure from flood damage, and the basin-wide projects are crucial for improving our data and coordination on the challenging and complex water issues facing the Rio Grande and its tributaries. I'll continue to fight for these important investments in water infrastructure and smart, collaborative water management strategies."
“New Mexicans deserve cost effective, science-based infrastructure projects to manage our limited water supplies,” Heinrich said. “These Army Corps of Engineers projects will safeguard communities along the Rio Grande from flooding and help us plan for a secure and sustainable water future. When complete, the San Acacia levee project will save money for property owners in Socorro County who will no longer need to carry flood insurance as part of their homeowners policy. I am also pleased that we will finally be able to start implementing the Rio Grande Environmental Management Program, which will allow all stakeholders who depend on the Rio Grande to gather accurate data and better coordinate watershed management.”
The projects are funded through the Army Corps of Engineers’ discretionary fund for flood control included in last December’s omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016. Udall and Heinrich successfully secured funding that allowed these projects to move forward in that legislation.