Rio Grande levees in jeopardy after large snow melt

LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Jetty jacks along the Rio Grande designed to stop erosion are now under water and many trails are now flooded. The high waters are certainly good for the animals, but not necessarily for people.

In a ride along with Mike Hamman, the Chief Executive Officer for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District showed KRQE News 13 on a ride along, the aftermath of the high snow melt this year.

“That park bench is inundated over there,” said Hamman, pointing to a bench a trail along the Rio Grande in Los Lunas, covered in water.

The water is high, and Hamman said the levels have actually come down quite a bit, but all that water puts stress on the levees.

“Bosque Farms and Los Lunas the water is getting up into the overflow bank area and coming up against the levee system. There’s a possibility that maybe one of our levees could get weakened and then breach,” said Hamman.

He said crews recently patrolled the levees and found seepage. They made repairs, but it’s not a permanent fix.

“If we had a big rain storm event on top of the flows that we saw, it could have caused some problems,” said Hamman.

He said a breach could be devastating.

“There’s a possibility that water could damage homes and farm land,” he said.

Hamman said they’re working with the core engineers on a total reconstruction of the levees from Albuquerque to Belen, a quarter of a billion dollar project. But with some bad comes good.

“Actually a good problem to have when you have good water supply,” said Hamman.