Cochiti Lake swim beach closed for Memorial Day


COCHITI, N.M. (KRQE) – Wild weather this past year has had some lasting effects on New Mexico and now it’s still impacting the way a lot of people will spend their Memorial Day weekend.

One of the Albuquerque metro-area’s most popular swimming spots won’t be open for the unofficial start of summer because the Feds are still trying to fix the damage done by last year’s monsoons.

You could only fly over Cochiti Lake after last September’s flooding.

“Cochiti Dam held approximately 16 feet of water for over a month,” said Mark Rosacker, the Operations Project Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cochiti Lake.

A week of heavy monsoons washed in logs and swallowed up campgrounds around Cochiti Lake, inundating the recreation infrastructure and causing a lot of damage.

While the water is back to normal now heading into Memorial Day Weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers says Cochiti Lake’s prime swimming spot won’t be open. The announcement came Thursday to the surprise of many people visiting the lake.

“It’s kind of sad,” said Chantell Tenorio, a Santo Domingo Pueblo resident.

“Oh good God, yeah, they’re going to be very upset!” exclaimed Russel Zoll of Albuquerque.

Engineers say they’re still fixing Cochiti Lake’s “Swim Beach.” They’re now saying it won’t be open for Memorial Day Weekend.

“I mean I’m disheartened to hear this myself,” said Zoll.

“We were planning on bringing my nieces and nephews and kids,” said Tenorio.

The Army Corps of Engineers says overhead shelters, toilets and pathways were destroyed in the flood. They’ve had to redesign the entire area, but say eight months hasn’t been long enough.

“The delay that we’ve experienced most recently has been related to the contractor being able to attain the proper materials and get them manufactured,” said Rosacker.

The crowds weren’t at Cochiti Lake on Thursday, but the place is typically packed for Memorial Day Weekend, the first holiday weekend of the warm weather season. Now the closure has some people already changing plans.

Chantell and Pete Tenorio told News 13 Thursday that they will likely cancel their trip to Cochiti Lake, instead, opting to go to Albuquerque.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it usually sees more than 600 people on the beach every day of a holiday weekend. While there could be a drop in the number of people who visit this year, Rosacker says he’s still optimistic people will still come to Cochiti.

“I think people will redistribute themselves around the lake,” said Rosacker.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it’s already finished rebuilding some of the bathrooms, but it still needs to rebuild all of the overhead shelters. The Corps says it hopes to reopen the swim beach by mid-June.

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