Neighbors call drainage pond near elementary school ‘health hazard’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A neighbor asked KRQE News 13 to get to the bottom of why a pond with stagnant water near a west side elementary school doesn’t seem to concern Albuquerque Public Schools.

“This is disgusting,” Betty Hanes, who lives near Chaparral Elementary School, said. “It’s a health hazard.”

Hanes is referring to the water that’s accumulated in the lot to the east of the school. She’s lived in the nearby neighborhood for more than a decade and has watched the lot fill with water, stand, then take months to dry up, year after year.

AMAFCA map shows the neighborhoods from which water drains into the lot near Chaparral Elementary School.
AMAFCA map shows the neighborhoods from which water drains into the lot near Chaparral Elementary School.

“This is out of control,” she said. “We live down the block. We’ve had a ton of mosquitoes.”

She says she’s reached out to APS to find out why no one is doing anything about the lot with no answer. After this Saturday’s nasty storm, she’s worried for the kids that are about to start school on August 11th.

“The water standing for months, that can’t be healthy,” she said. It’s a textbook breeding ground for mosquitoes.

According to online records, the lot belongs to APS. But an APS spokeswoman tells KRQE News 13 that it is maintained by the City of Albuquerque and AMAFCA, Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo and Flood Control Authority.

As it turns out, the lot is a designated drainage area, according to AMAFCA’s website. The water drains from the nearby neighborhoods. AMAFCA even labels it a “pond.”

An APS maintenance supervisor told KRQE News 13 that APS routinely sprays the area for mosquitoes during the summer and after storms. We’re told it has already been sprayed since this weekend.

Second AMAFCA map labels the drain near Chaparral Elementary a "pond."
Second AMAFCA map labels the drain near Chaparral Elementary a “pond.”

The APS spokeswoman KRQE News 13 first spoke to said the drain is “doing what it’s supposed to.”

Hanes just can’t understand why a drainage area was built next to a school in the first place.

“I would like to ask them, would they like to live across the street from this? I don’t think so,” Hanes said.

KRQE News 13 reached out to AMAFCA for comment, and heard back late in the day. AMAFCA said APS is wrong, and that it does not have any part in maintaining the drainage pond.

The AMAFCA spokesman said the drain came first, not the school.

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