Posts in Category: 2020 – August 8 Issue

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: REPORT ON ‘HEALTH SECURITY FOR NEW MEXICANS’

With a financial impact analysis in hand, New Mexico legislators may be prepared to make a decision on a long-proposed near-universal health care program during their 2021 session. The Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, led by Corrales’ Mary Feldblum, responded last month to a report by three consultants tasked to analyze cost-benefits inherent in the plan that would provide health care insurance equivalent to that enjoyed by state employees.

As Feldblum explained, the proposal is for state government “to set up its own health plan to ensure most New Mexicans, exclusive of the military, military retirees and federal retirees. “There is complete freedom of choice of doctors and hospitals, and services can be no less than what State employees have. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXVII No.20 January 5, 2019 ‘Health Security Act’ Could Pass N.M. Legislature.”)

The State’s contract with KNG Health Consulting, IHS Markit and Reynis Analytics produced analyses of four scenarios with various assumptions over the time period 2024 to 2028. Feldblum, who holds a doctorate in sociology and economics, pointed out that the analysis demonstrated that under the fourth scenario, implementation of the Health Security Act would yield substantial savings compared to what is now spent on health care in New Mexico.

Factored in were a wide range of costs, such as individuals’ insurance premiums, employer contributions and co-pays. “Possibly some Corrales Comment readers saw the Albuquerque Journal article on the consultants’ report. It emphasized what was called ‘a short fall,’ in revenues for the Health Security Plan.

“For Scenario 1, which is the one which got all the publicity, the consultant said there would be a short fall; there wouldn’t be enough revenue to pay for the cost of the plan.” But that is because of anticipated start-up costs, Feldblum said. Under Scenarios 2 and 3, the revenue-to-cost ratio shrinks, and under the fourth scenario, “there is no shortfall at all.”

She said the Journal article did not explain that scenarios studied showed less and less shortfall. “When you just look at short falls over a five-year period, from 2024 to 2028, you’re missing something. Why is there a shortfall in 2024 and not in 2028?

“The point is, when you start up a new program, you’re always going to have some added costs in the beginning.” Feldblum said she has problems with the consultants’ analysis, “but what’s important is that in every single scenario, they saw the short fall diminished and in one case, the short fall didn’t occur at all.”  The report makes it clear state government will save administrative costs with Medicaid being rolled into the Health Security plan. Another significant cost reduction derives from bulk purchase of drugs.

She submitted a 35-page critique of KNG’s preliminary 65-page draft report. “They corrected some things, but the analysis still has some major, major problems. But this is a big undertaking for any think-tank to be able to project a change that would come from something like the Health Security Act.

“So I’d like Corrales residents to keep in mind that in 1965, when Medicare was introduced in Congress under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the numbers-crunching was very weak. It had never been done before, yet they proceeded. And 55 years later —with lots of changes, of course— it’s still a very popular program that serves a critical need.

“So while focusing on numbers is important so that you have some sense of where you’re navigating… I’m not convinced that KNG is navigating in the right way… but there’s enough in there that ultimately they admit we’re going to spend less under Health Security than we would under the current system.”

The question now, Feldblum posed, “is do we start this process now? Do we start setting this up in the next session of the legislature? “We know that in a state with a small population it makes sense to start our own health plan.” She cited two previous studies on the implications of the Health Security plan, one in 2004 and the other in 2007; neither indicated any funding short fall.

“We know this is do-able. Under the current system, the problems are enormous, as we all know. Hospitals that were fragile before COVID-19, many of them are almost bankrupt now. We’re seeing premiums go up and people’s out-of-pocket costs are going up. It just doesn’t make sense to be dividing everybody into these small, different insurance pools. Doctors are frustrated. We have more and more physicians who are interested in the Health Security Act. They’re fed up with the IT systems that have nothing to do with quality of health care, but everything to do with whether they will get paid by insurance plan A or B or C or D or E, F or G.

“It’s an immensely complex system and we have a chance in New Mexico to do something different. There are over 170 organizations… farmers and ranchers, health providers and all kinds of community organizations that have endorsed this. There are 37 county and municipal governments who support this, even Roswell.” Public pressure will determine whether the 2021 session of the N.M. Legislature launches the Health Security plan, Feldblum said. “There is enough evidence to show that we need to go down this path. We have to do it slowly and carefully.”

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: CAUTIOUS PLANNING FOR FALL SCHOOL OPENINGS

As Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham juggles the complex demands of the pandemic and its conflicting effect on small businesses, restaurants, public health and schools, parents, teachers and students across the country warily eye a return to in-person education.

A junior high school in Indiana opened up to students on one day, a student tested positive, and within hours, plans changed. According to an article in the New York Times, August 1, “Of the nation’s 25 largest school districts, all but six have announced they will start remotely, although some in places like Florida and Texas are hoping to open classrooms after a few weeks if infection rates go down….”  New Mexico will start remotely. The Albuquerque Public Schools Re-entry Plan “calls for school to begin the week of August 12 with the distribution of technology to all students, virtual home visits, and guidance for staff, students, and families on safely attending school and effectively learning at home.”

“Under the plan, which is subject to change depending on the spread of the coronavirus and public health orders, students would return to the classroom after Labor Day, September 7, on an every-other-week rotation Tuesdays-Fridays.” The rotation chosen “allows for more continuity of instruction with fewer transitions for students,” according to APS.

The plan applies to Corrales Elementary as well. To dive deep into the program and its ramifications, teachers and school staff were scheduled to return to school August 5. “The plan outlines steps for swiftly moving to remote learning if the spread of the coronavirus isn’t curtailed and public health orders still call for residents to mostly stay at home,” according to APS.

To read about APS’ thinking, see http://www.aps.edu/schools/reentry-plan. Sandia View Academy, the Seventh-day Adventist private high school at 65 Sandia View Lane, will re-open August 12, according to principal Chanda C. Castañeda. The school is offering a hybrid model, customized according to the needs of the student and parent.

“We offer a two-day on campus and three-day off campus program,” according to Castañeda, who encourages students to take electives on-campus. But, for those who choose to do electives from home, “students at home will be provided a list of supplies for art class, and ingredients, for cooking class, that they would need at home. They would follow the steps the teacher does via Zoom, our online learning platform.” http://sandiaviewacademy.org

Corrales’ Cottonwood Montessori School is registering now “for dynamic onsite and online school starting September 9.” For further information call the office at 897-8375. Bosque Prep is opening August 14, but working with what it calls a Model 3 plan for “remote teaching and learning.” Its Covid-19 influenced website, http://www.bosqueschool.org, is detailed and descriptive, and contains this explanation as to how state mandates dictate its programming.

“In a press conference on July 23, the governor mandated no in-person teaching and learning until at least Labor Day, September 7. As an independent school, Bosque does not fall under New Mexico Public Education Department guidelines and mandates, but we are considered a business and are bound to the State Public Health Orders that currently limit group gatherings to no more than five people and 25 percent occupancy limits.

“Under the current order, this means we would only be able to have classes of four students (a regular section is approximately 16 students). In order to bring students back to campus at this point, they would have to rotate through once every four to five days. We have therefore made the decision to start remotely, providing our students with five-day-a-week schooling.”

In a recent address to the APS Administrators Conference on Education, APS Interim Superintendent Scott Elder noted that “We’re definitely doing things differently this year, but the energy is much more nervous, excitement has been replaced with anxiety. And not much of what we've had to do of late can be classified as fun.”

“In my new job as the interim superintendent, I'm supposed to rally the troops, motivate the team. I will try my best to do that today, and each day as we move forward through this unconventional school year. To be straightforward. I read an article recently titled, “There Are No Right Decisions About This School Year.” I am just hoping to be less wrong.But I also promise to be honest with you.”

“First and foremost, we have to figure out how to educate our students —all of our students. And we have to make everyone feel safe, not just students and their families, but our teachers, our staff, and, yes, even ourselves. We can’t be effective if we don’t believe what we’re selling: a plan to safely educate students amid a contagious pandemic, despite the complications, frustrations, and stumbling blocks.”

“Remember that our students —and our staff, too— are returning from a traumatic life disruption, and we need to take extra steps to meet their social, emotional, and cognitive needs. Oddly, this might turn out to be a silver lining. “For a long time now, our students and families have been crying out for more social and emotional learning and support at school. There’s been a growing need for better understanding, more empathy, improved self-awareness and identity, and relationship building.

“Another goal of the Re-entry Plan is to equip our students with the knowledge, skills, capacities and resources to return to school with an increased ability to adapt to potentially changing scenarios.

“And finally, the third goal of the Re-entry Plan is to develop short and long-term learning goals for students. This goal centers on societal and educational disruption. Once again, I see this as an opportunity to personalize education for our students, meeting their needs while we teach them to be adaptable and capable, no matter the setting.”

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: FARMLAND EASEMENT DECISION EXPLAINED


Several years of negotiations to save the Trosello tract as farmland in perpetuity have been unsuccessful. With heavy hearts, villagers need to accept that the iconic view of that wide expanse of corn and chile fields along Corrales Road almost certainly will disappear.That somber outlook follows the Village Council’s approval to use much of the $2.5 million in municipal bonds to purchase a conservation easement on more than 12 acres of the Haslam farm near the intersection of Corrales Road and King’s Road, between the Corrales Lateral ditch and the Main Canal.

The council voted unanimously at its July 21 session to take the next steps to acquire the easement and accompanying water rights. A closing on the transaction is expected by the end of November, according to the Village’s realty agent, Michael Scisco of Unique Places LLC who negotiated the terms.

Subsequently, Corrales Comment asked Scisco whether he had given up trying to gain an easement on the Trosello tract. He replied, “We have not given up, but the expectation of land values of the landowners and the documented appraised value for vacant farmland in Corrales are fairly far apart. And the current landowners of the Trosello tract are not interested in doing a conservation easement, they are only interested in selling.

“We tried multiple creative ways to finance the deal, bringing in third parties, trying different configurations, etc., but it typically ended in someone paying more than fair market value for the property or having the current landowners do the conservation easement, both of which were not possible at the time. We will continue to search for solutions.”

He said “We exhausted our options on Trosello before Haslam became a potential project.” Lisa Brown, co-chair of the Corrales Farmland Preservation and Agricultural Commission, held out some hope that the Trosello land might remain cultivated rather than turn into mega-mansions on one acre home sites.

“While Michael is right that we've worked long and hard to attract landowners with significant parcels along Corrales Road to the program, without success as of yet, it's important to remember when doing conservation work that ownership and circumstances can change quickly.

“The Trosello tract on the market, for example, might be sold to someone who intends to preserve it. This pandemic could change minds and hearts as we stay at home and contemplate what our values are; or a financial incentive might come into play. And so our recent experience doesn't necessarily reflect the future of our program,” Brown said.

“Another point I want to emphasize is that two of the existing conservation easements here, the Boyd and Ventana Grande Smith lands, are currently farmed by Silverleaf Farms, creating a local source of food supply and attracting biodiversity to the greater village, benefits enjoyed by our whole community regardless of where the easements are situated.

“With the Haslam easement, we have preserved land dispersed throughout Corrales. These fields are protected forever from development and might in the future be farmed by our grandchildren. What we create with farmland preservation is not just open space or recreation, but intended to protect our fertile soil, history and culture.

“Yes, land in Corrales is expensive, and this presents particular challenges for land preservation here. But conservation easements are a great deal for the Village. What is essentially the purchase of development rights is only a partial, albeit significant, cost compared to the entire value of the land.

“The remaining interest stays with the landowner, monitored by a land trust —in our case New Mexico Land Conservancy— to ensure that the land stays protected. This means that the Village isn’t required to maintain or improve the land while benefiting from open space, wildlife habitat, a local food supply and historical relevance. Residential development that would occur otherwise is expensive for the Village to provide for, such as in the case of emergency services.”

By state law, the general obligation bonds approved by Corrales voters in March 2018 for conservation easements must be used by March 2022. The Haslam easement will use at least $960,000.

Scisco said July 28 no other easement proposals are ready to go to the council. “We have a couple preliminary opportunities, but with COVID, getting them to the next phase has proven difficult.”

Earlier this summer, the U.S. House of Representatives approved permanent funding of $900 million a year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. But Scisco explained none of that could go for programs like that in Corrales. “Funding for private land conservation is scarce. Remember that conservation easements do not typically allow for public access. Land and Water Conservation Fund monies are for municipal purchases for parks and other accessible open space by the public.”

And while grants from the U.S.Department of Agriculture were crucial for starting Corrales’ farmland preservation program, more help from that agency is not likely, he said.

“USDA is always an option, but it is very competitive. The land trusts in New Mexico typically have two to three waiting lists for projects, and USDA over the years has shown less appetite for funding three to 10 acres in Corrales at $80,000 to $100,000/acre than funding thousands of acres on ranches at $200-$600 per acre.

“Also, the USDA program only gets about $900,000 a year, which can be used up in just one or two projects. Involving USDA also takes what could be a four- to six-month process of completing the conservation easement and turning it into a 12- to 18-month process to complete the easement.

“Our issue is not available funding, it is landowner interest… hopefully your article will help with that,” Scisco said. “Of the now eight conservation easements for preservation of open space and farmland located in the village, the Haslam project is the second largest in terms of protecting acreage.”

He explained what he has done to encourage other landowners to apply for the Village’s farmland preservation program. “During the past 14 months of our work to sign up landowners for this program, I spoke with over a dozen landowners. This [Haslam] project was the only one that committed to moving forward in that time period.”

That outreach included a mailing to all landowners who own at least acres of land in Corrales, as well as a targeted mailing to all landowners who own at least three acres of land along or near Corrales Road. “I understand there were a few questions from members of the public about ‘why aren’t there any projects along Corrales Road where the public can see them?’ We reached out directly to four landowners of significant property along Corrales Road, had meetings with them and could not convince them to sign up for the program,” he said. This is a voluntary program, we can’t force people to participate.

“I also want to make it clear we made a strong effort to enter Trosello fields into this program, but were not successful due to land valuation differences between what the Village could legally pay and what the landowner wanted. “I want to make clear that the bond funding cannot be used to purchase property, only interests in property such as conservation easements. This has been determined by legal review.”

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: ONLY CANDIDATE SO FAR FOR PET MAYOR 2020-21

Confident, even a teensy bit formidable-looking in her official portrait, Abigail Fae is the first candidate to enter this year’s pet mayor election. Abigail is “one of our village’s cutest and sweetest dogs,” according to Pet Mayor Contest organizer Tracy Stabenow. Abigail’s campaign slogan? “Building a brighter tomorrow —one tennis ball at a time.”

This year’s election will be handled entirely online due to the pandemic. Anyone interested in entering her or his pet can fill out the application on the Harvest Festival’s website at http://www.corralesharvestfestival.com/2020-pet-mayoral-election. Then, scan and email it to PetMayor@corralesharvestfestival.com, or snail mail it to 4 Acoma Trail, Corrales, NM 87048. Applications will be taken through the end of August.

Official online voting for our next Pet Mayor begins September 1, and voting costs $1 per vote with a minimum of five votes. You may vote as often and as generously as your wallet will allow ($5 = 5 votes, $20 = 20 votes, $100 = 100 votes).

The pet that raises the most money —gets the most votes— wins the mayoral election. The Corrales Pet Mayor contest is a part of the Corrales Harvest Festival that raises funds to support the needs of our two- and four-legged members in the village.

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: EX-CORRALES COP SUES WHEN HE’S INVESTIGATED FOR DISCIPLINE


Shortly before being forced out as executive director of the N.M. League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) late last month, Ralph Arellanes sent a letter to Corrales Mayor Jo Anne Roake objecting to the dismissal of Village Clerk Shannon Fresquez.

In his July 20 letter, Arellanes, who has also served as chairman of the Hispano Roundtable of New Mexico, wrote that “You were elected mayor in March 2018. At that time, the Village Administrator was a Hispanic male having served in that position for two mayors. You removed that individual and hired a non-Hispanic in that position. You appointed as Village Clerk a Hispanic female. Recently you have removed that individual and replaced her with a non-Hispanic. In fact, all three of the individuals serving in the exempt positions are white males.”

Municipal governments in New Mexico have three at-will positions: Village Administrator, Village Clerk and Police Chief. Almost immediately after Roake was sworn in as mayor, she dismissed all three and submitted new names for confirmation by the Village Council.

The Arellanes to Roake letter noted that “Corrales has many members of the Hispanic community such as the Pereas, Wagners and Riveras to name a few that have contributed greatly to Corrales. So how does it happen that there is not a single Hispanic serving in your administration in one of the three exempt positions? “We question whether you genuinely believe in diversity as your actions do n ot reflect that.”

Responding to a Corrales Comment request for a response, Mayor Roake emailed “As a female mayor, it is always my goal to have a diverse and qualified workforce. I take that responsibility to the public very seriously.”

She suggested that further inquiries be sent to Village Administrator Ron Curry. When asked, Curry explained that Fresquez was not fired, but rather that the mayor had not re-appointed her. He pointed out that the Village Clerk position is, and has always been an at-will employee which gives the mayor the ability to dismiss the person without showing cause.

In what could be related, the Village and former Village Clerk Fresquez have been sued by former Corrales police officer Daniel Parsons over an alleged violation of a request for inspection of public records.

Parsons’ attorney, Tom Grover, contacted Corrales Comment by email July 22 implying that the newspaper was remiss in not reporting on the police officer’s complaint. “Silent from the June 6, 2020 article is any reference to the fact that Ms. Fresquez and the Village are being sued by a former Corrales police officer concerning a public records request violation. That’s odd given the circumstances.” The attorney cited the lawsuit D-1329-CV-2019-01756, Parsons v Village of Corrales and Shannon Fresquez.

Corrales Comment was not aware of that court action and explained that to attorney Grover, asking for a copy of his filing and an opportunity to interview his client.  Grover replied August 3, forwarding a copy of his suit filed in the Thirteenth Judicial District Court.

In that email, the attorney added he would soon file a “whisteleblower’s” suit on behalf of former Officer Parsons. “Daniel Parsons has a whistleblower suit that is probably about a month out from filing,” Grover wrote. The attorney’s first lawsuit clarifies that Fresquez is named as defendant because she was the statutory custodian of the Village’s official documents and responsible for responding to requests for inspection of public records.

The court filing partially explains that  Parsons wants to know what is in an investigator’s report ordered by the Village. A key clause in the suit reads: “A copy of the Robert Caswell Investigations (“RCI”) report concerning Village of Corrales employee Daniel Parsons, including, but not limited to: exhibits, summaries, synopsis, exhibits, audio and video recordings, table of contents and conclusions.” Later in the suit, Grover noted that Parsons was apparently under investigation while he was “facing disciplinary action upon him by Village of Corrales Chief Mangiacapra.”

Vic Mangiacapra is Corrales’ chief of police.

Contacted by Corrales Comment, Mayor Roake said she could not comment on the matter. “It’s ongoing, so the Village can’t comment. The Village always strives to comply with Inspection of Public Records Act requests.” LULAC’s executive director, Arellanes, was forced out of his position about a week after he sent the letter to Mayor Roake complaining about dismissal of Village Clerk Fresquez. Arellanes resigned after being told he would be replaced. But that internal conflict apparently had little to do with either matter in Corrales.

Instead LULAC members were upset that Arellanes had recently sent a strong letter to the president of the University of New Mexico demanding that course and materials critical of the Spanish conquest be discontinued. But Arellanes’ emailed letter to Mayor Roake was copied to more than 170 recipients around the country, including former Governor Jerry Apodaca and two former lieutenant governors.

In May, the mayor replaced Fresquez with Aaron Gjullin, who had been an assistant to Corrales Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXIX No.7 June 6, 2020 “Aaron Gjullin Named Village Clerk.”) Gjullin started working at the rec center as a life guard at the pool in 2008. In 2017, he was named head life guard. Gjullin earned a degree at the University of Portland after studying biology and mathematics. In the Portland area, he was general manager of a large farm from 2014 to 2017.

In 2018, he was an administrative assistant in the Village Office. In recent years, he has also managed the Village’s website and other digital media tasks. At the May 26 Village Council meeting, discussion about Fresquez’s departure was guarded and brief, since it was said to be a personnel matter.

Councillor Kevin Lucero asked for some discussion about the change, saying he was concerned about the rate of turnover in the Village Clerk position. “I want to make sure that none of my comments, in any way, shape or form, are derogatory to Aaron. I know he’s smart and everything about him. These comments are specifically about the Village Clerk.

“For whatever reasons, this particular dismissal has caught a little traction, with me anyway. I’ve had several conversations, some were emails, from around the village who are kinda wondering why the turnover is the way it is.

“I don’t like to see turnover, and probably nobody does, but with this particular position, we have to consider the amount of experience that has left [Village government]. Granted, personnel issues are always very tough and I understand that. I know there may be some issues that can’t be discussed in this forum, but maybe in a closed session,” Lucero added.

“I think it would be appropriate if we at least got everything clarified and out in the open so that I can discuss with people who are coming to me [about the turnover], that we should maybe postpone the approval of the appointment of the Village Clerk upon discussion in a closed session.” Lucero said the discussion should include Village personnel turnover generally. “This has nothing to do with Aaron; I know he’s a smart guy and I’m sure he will do a great job.”

Mayor Jo Anne Roake interrupted him. “You should be kinda careful on this issue, okay?”

She asked Village Attorney Randy Autio to join the discussion. He said he understood the mayor’s concern about the discussion Lucero initiated. “Everybody is always concerned about situations like this.” But the mayor’s choice of Gjullin to replace Fresquez is uncomplicated, he said. “Councillors can act with their vote. In other words, you either support the mayor in the person’s appointment or not.” Lucero ended the discussion by pointing out, “It’s not that I don’t want to support the mayor. I just want to ask some questions that have been posed to me, and maybe not with this particular position, but just in general. It’s just that I would like to get some of this cleared up before we move forward.”

At the vote to approve Gjullin’s appointment to replace Fresquez, Lucero joined in the unanimous assent.

2020-AUGUST 8 ISSUE: CLIMATE CHANGE WILL BRING MORE INTENSE STORMS



By Scott Manning

The executive director of the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) is confident that its facilities protecting Corrales can withstand increasingly severe storms caused by climate change —in the near term.

Chuck Thomas told Corrales Comment last month its flood control infrastructure can handle expected storm intensities since the authority’s dams, ponds and other facilities were designed to control floods in excess of the projected “once in a hundred years” storm events, and because timely maintenance is conducted. SSCAFCA uses models to understand storm water flow in southern Sandoval County. Using those data, the authority has designed infrastructure based on the probability of an intense downpour occurring within a 100-year period.

For example, if a storm water control facility would need to store 25 acre-feet of water in a major storm, SSCAFCA engineers design the facility to operate properly in more intense conditions by doubling the required storage capacity to 50 acre-feet. But, Thomas said, the authority lacks the data necessary to determine how climate change impacts weather events in this region. With a relatively small data set, it is difficult to identify weather trends, Thomas cautioned.

Yet SSCAFCA has commissioned research on the risks of climate change and how to communicate those risks. Presentations have been given to the authority’s board of directors on the implications of future storms of greater intensity and frequency. SSCAFCA participated in the Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project, led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center, and by the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) in Albuquerque.

SSCAFCA first examined whether climate change corresponded to greater storm severity and increased flood risk in the southern Sandoval region. For this analysis, SSCAFCA studied a 56- square mile region just northwest of Corrales in the Rio Rancho. SSCAFCA evaluated general circulation models (GCM), that use atmospheric and oceanic circulation models to predict weather changes over time.

The project used GCM precipitation models from 1950 to 2099 to evaluate changing precipitation patterns.

Then, researchers considered three time periods in their analysis: 1950-1999, 2000-2049, and 2050-2099. Researchers focused on the predicted median precipitation in a 100-year storm to draw comparisons between the three time periods. Results indicated that differences were statistically insignificant between the median 100-year 24-hour precipitation value for the 1950-1999 period and the precipitation value for the 2000-2049 period.

However, the median precipitation greatly increased for the 2050-2099 time period. From this analysis researchers concluded that SSCAFCA should prepare for increasingly more severe precipitation events driven by climate change and changing weather patterns in the future.

Having established a link between climate change and increased storm severity in Sandoval County, SSCAFCA then considered the potential impact of increasingly severe weather events by considering the Calabacillas Watershed in Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties.

In 2014, SSCAFCA partnered with the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) to develop a hydrologic model of the Calabacillas watershed.

First, the hydrologic model considered the impact of a current 100-year storm with an estimated 24-hour precipitation of 2.6 to 3.1 inches. Second, the model examined the impact of a hypothetical storm that produces 10 percent more rainfall than the current 100-year storm.

Third, the model examined the regional impact of a hypothetical storm that produced 25 percent more rainfall than the current estimates. Using this three-storm model, researchers evaluated the impact of severe storm events for this region. They determined that climate change could damage and overwhelm existing flood control infrastructure. More precipitation in a 24-hour period could generate higher peak flow rates.

For example, analysts identified Southern Boulevard in Rio Rancho as an at-risk road in the case of more severe storms. Already severe storms have threatened Southern Boulevard. But a 25 percent increase in the severity of a 100-year storm would increase water flow rates along Southern Boulevard by 75 percent. That example demonstrated that some flood control infrastructure simply lacks the capacity to handle more serious 100-year storms.

Second, investigators considered the impact of more severe storms on floodplains, the areas in the watershed that experience high levels of water flow in severe storm situations. Both the depth of a channel and the topography of the surrounding region affect flood patterns, so that researchers must study each channel separately to identify the risks to the floodplain.

In that study, they evaluated a housing development located directly east of an arroyo. Analysis demonstrated that a 10 percent increase in the severity of a 100-year storm would damage or destroy 30 homes in the housing development. That meant more work must be done to secure the floodplains.

Third, researchers concluded the study by examining how erosion in the watershed would change in cases of more severe storms. Erosion is a concern because the Calabacillas Watershed contains sandy loam soils that are highly susceptible to erosion. Erosion is damaging because the process changes the direction of water flow and deposits sediment downstream.

Studies compared the shape of the Calabacillas Arroyo from 1952 to 2012 to understand how erosion impacted the water feature. In this period, parts of the arroyo migrated laterally by over 300 feet. In highly populated areas, that kind of migration could harm private property and storm water control infrastructure. As the severity of storms increases, they expect the rate of erosion-driven lateral migration will accelerate.

The study concluded by acknowledging that climate change could lead to more severe 100-storm events that threaten infrastructure and private property in southern Sandoval County. SSCAFCA is currently conducting an evaluation of drainage on the western side of Corrales to identify storm water flow patterns and drainage concerns. This study is part of a continuing effort by SSCAFCA to serve as an available resource for Corrales.

Thomas is confident that SSCAFCA infrastructure will protect Corrales in future storm events because it has taken the necessary precautions in designing and in maintaining arroyo flood control infrastructure.

The authority maintains a robust maintenance program to ensure that all current infrastructure developments are up-to-date and operating properly. Thomas said he aims to conduct maintenance work twice a year on each facility. His crews perform the first round of maintenance before summer so that facilities are in good shape for severe storms during monsoon season. Then SSCAFCA performs the second round after the rainy season ends to repair any damage.

The agency operates uses a mix of property tax revenues and government grants. SSCAFCA receives a portion of property taxes from residents living in the region which pays for the authority’s operating budget and maintains a debt service fund.
In 2008, SSCAFCA issued general obligation bonds for $18 million which lasted through 2016. After 2016, the authority issued more bonds to raise $21 million which is expected to be sufficient for another decade.

To conserve its funding, SSCAFCA applies for supplemental federal grants. For example, a bank stabilization project currently under construction will cost $4.3 million. SSCAFCA was awarded a federal grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for $3.2 million for the project, so SSCAFCA only had to spend $1.1 million of its bond funds on that project.

Earlier this summer, two Columbia University researchers wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times warning that climate change is dramatically increasing the risk of catastrophic dam collapse. “There is no doubt that climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme rainfall and the risk of floodwaters over-topping dams, the main reason a dam fails,” according to Upmanu Lall, chairman of Columbia’s Earth and Environmental Engineering Department, and Paulina Concha Larrari, a researcher in the Columbia Water Center.

“But while climate change may not be so easily fixable, making sure dams can withstand flooding is, and it is much cheaper than the consequences.”

COLUMN: WHAT’S ON? COMMUNITY CALENDAR

By Meredith Hughes
April thus far has not been the cruelest month for many of us, though legal sale of cannabis for adult recreational use is a year away. (Double vacced, yeah!) Daffodils! Hummers coming any day now. The itch to garden, rather than scrub the tub…. Email event suggestions to corralescomment@gmail.com. Published the first issue of the month, What’s On? invites suggestions one week before the publication date.
• The New Mexico Natural History Museum’s temporary exhibit, Tiny Titans:Dinosaur Eggs and Babies, is now viewable remotely through the summer.  If you don’t want to visit the museum in person, that is. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Timed ticketing found here.
• Cactus and Succulent Society of New Mexico Sale, April 10, 9 a.m. Vendors, from various places, provide a wide variety of cacti and other succulent plants available for purchase. They range from bargain starter plants to spectacular specimens. Plants suitable for outdoor landscaping will be available. As a result of COVID19, the sale will be outdoors, directly east of the Albuquerque Garden Center in the fenced parking lot. 10120 Lomas.
• Third Thursday OnLine, April 15, 6-8 p.m. Join us for an evening of free events inspired by the exhibitions Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism and Luís Jiménez: Motion and Emotion. There will be music by Felix y Los Gatos and a special episode of the Latinos Who Lunch podcast that focuses on Frida Kahlo and her legacy. Plus, live-streamed yoga with YogaZo. Via Albuquerque Museum.
• Earth Day, April 22 This site offers online events April 20-22, plus suggestions and links to actual programs. “Earthday.org’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earthday.org is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet.”  See www.earthday.org
• Ninth Annual NMPhil Virtual Gala, April 10, 6 p.m. Support this local cultural enterprise. Musical offerings, a live auction, and a “Raise the Paddle.” No fee for viewing, but you must register in advance at bidpal.net/shine for both the silent auction and live event. Any contribution for the “Raise the Paddle” is tax-deductible.
• The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is again open to visitors, Thursday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advanced, paid ticketing requirements will apply to visitors to the museum and courtyard, but not to those planning only to either dine at the Indian Pueblo Kitchen or shop at the Indian Pueblo Store. Book your tickets via this welcome page 12th Street.
• Corvid Conversations, exhibition through April 10. Art by Christopher Bull, whose work is “reflective of a long-standing fascination for crows. They are intelligent and adaptive, thriving in rural as well as urban areas. Crow is also a powerful totem or spirit animal. Living in the void outside of time, crow is said to see past, present and future. These paintings are also a response to the time we are in: the pandemic and resultant isolation. The space around the crows is as much the subject as are the crows. Each painting is a conversation with you, the viewer.” Open Space Visitor Center, 6500 Coors. 768-4950.

Did You Know?
The 33rd Annual Juried Old Church Fine Arts Show in Corrales is happening, thus far anyway, and it is scheduled for October 2-10, 2021. Artists are asked to submit their work between June 1 and July 15. The event is a project of the Corrales Historical Society’s Visual Arts Council and the Corrales Society Artists. Last October’s show ran throughout the month, and was entirely online.

The team of volunteers who kept the Old Church afloat throughout the pandemic year, or was it years ?, worked their remote fingers off. Be sure to read the CHS 2020 annual report, which is detailed, positive and handsomely laid out.

In Corrales
• Village Council meetings, April 13 and 27, 6:30 p.m., via Zoom.
• Casa San Ysidro, Second Saturday program, from 1-3 p.m. via Zoom. April 10: New Mexico's Indigenous Languages: Critical Challenges and Possibilities, with Dr. Christine Sims. You may register for this program by email here: agardner@cabq.gov. Or here, now through May 1, El Camino Real Trade Fair, a virtual experience of 1800s life along El Camino Real filled with living history, music, demonstrations, local artisans, educational sessions, and other family friendly activities. Find it on Facebook or via YouTube.
• Planning and Zoning meeting, April 21, 6:30 p.m.,via Zoom.
• Music in Corrales continues to offer on-line concerts. This on-demand concert video featuring Joe Crookston, “songwriter, guitarist, painter, fiddler, slide player, eco-village member, and believer in all things possible,”  will be available to view at any hour from April 17 through April 25. In addition to the concert, a live Zoom conversation with Joe is set for April 17 at 7:30 p.m. A link and specific information for your Virtual Backstage Pass to the live event will be sent via email along with your ticket link 12 to 24 hours prior to April 17. Tickets found here.
• Corrales Library. Book Club, April 26, 2:30 p.m., Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian saga of genetically-bred humans finding their way. Author series, April 27, 7 p.m. The Gospel According to Billy the Kid, by Santa Fe’s Dennis McCarthy. “…an alternative history of the Lincoln County War and the outlaw we know as William H. Bonney.” Please contact Sandra Baldonado for Zoom event details at sandra@corraleslibrary.org.
• Sandoval Cty Master Gardeners webinars.April 13,  2 p.m. Growing Tomatoes in the Desert Southwest, with Sandoval Extension Master Gardener Sam Thompson April 20, 2 p.m.
Raised Bed Gardening with Sandoval Extension Master Gardener Kevin Konetzni, April 30, 10 a.m.
Tree and Shrub Protective Maintenance in Preparation for the Drought, with Sandoval Extension Master Gardener Sandra Liakus.
• Corrales Growers’ Market. Weekly summer Sunday sessions begin April 25, 9 to noon. Still no dogs allowed…
• Village in the Village. Coffee hour, Fridays, 10 to 11a.m. via Zoom. Book Club, April 19, News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, 3 p.m. Captain Kidd, Tom Hanks in the film, travels through Texas reading the news to paying audiences.

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