The 2021 Corrales Harvest Festival was cancelled less than three weeks before it was scheduled to launch over the weekend of September 25-26.
The organizers, the Kiwanis Club of Corrales, made the decision to avoid COVID-19 exposures. In a statement, the club explained, “Because we cannot control the environment of most of the major locations of the festival in a way that offers protection for the safety of children attending, as well as the kind, generous people who volunteer to put on the festival, we believe that staging the festival this year may well put them at risk of coronavirus infections.”
The 2020 festival was cancelled as well.
Native American Community Academy (NACA) has been awarded $20,000 by the N.M. Outdoor Recreation Division. This summer, students participated in growing crops on the Trosello farm at the north end of Corrales. The non-profit incorporates “land-based learning as part of a holistic learning approach. Many of the school’s students have experienced historical separation from their ancestral lands due to forced relocation and assimilation practices. Healing those relationships with the land is an essential part of enabling students to heal from the generational trauma of colonization and grow into holistically healthy adults.”
The program aims to help students better understand the holistic connection between land leadership, community, health, and their own native identity.
The division’s Outdoor Equity Fund also awarded $20,000 for a Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, supporting monthly, in-depth outdoor education for students and their teachers from low-income schools by collaborating to collect field data to track long-term change in the Middle Rio Grande bosque.
The first-of-its-kind Outdoor Equity Fund was created to increase equitable access to the outdoors for all youth.
“Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has recognized that New Mexico’s outdoor recreation areas are an important asset for creating jobs and boosting public health,” Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “The second round of grants from the innovative Outdoor Equity Fund will help organizations throughout the state with outdoor programming and education.”
More than 80 proposals were submitted for the grants
The fifth annual Placitas Garden Tour on Sunday September 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will once again pair access to exquisite local gardens with artists creating work at each site. For the first time, the tour selected individuals working in both two- and three-dimensions, presenting garden art as well as paintings that reflect the beauty of nature when displayed indoors.
Featured artists include Juan Wijngaard, Barbara Burzillo, Reid Bandeen, Jim Holley, Bev Nagy, Rebecca Nolda, Carol Ordogne and Gayle Elaine Scott. Their work can also be seen in the Placitas Community Library’s Gracie Lee Community Room Gallery September 15 through October 21.
Additional information about where to purchase tickets and other details can be found at placitasgardentour.com.
Geologist David Mayerson died in his home here July 8 at age 68, succumbing to pancreatic cancer after nearly two years. A regular early morning cyclist in the Bosque Preserve, he also enjoyed hiking and cross-country skiing with friends in the Jemez Mountains. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and other non-profits.
After studying at Harvard and Wesleyan Universities, Mayerson earned a master’s degree in geology at the N.M Mining and Technology. He traveled widelyboth for his profession and for pleasure with his wife of 31 years, Glenda Moore, whose dedication eased his last months despite the pandemic.
He is survived by her, his mother, Louise and brothers Mark and Ben, in addition to nephews and a niece.
An exhibition of artwork created during the pandemic has been mounted at Tortuga Gallery in downtown Albuquerque. Among the 40 artists participating in the show “Grief & Gratitude” is Corrales Comment’s graphics specialist, Katie Neeley with a painting titled “Ecdysis” and another “Self Portrait.” The show with 72 pieces opened September 3 and continues through September 26. It was conceptualized and organized by Jane Westbrook, and Rafael Black curated and hung the exhibit.
The gallery is at 901 Edith Boulevard SE.
See the website for a list of hours and events: tortugagallery.org.
The Albuquerque Historical Society invites the general public to a free walking tour along Central Avenue from First Street to Eighth Street Saturday mornings. It departs from Tucano’s Brazilian Restaurant at 10 a.m. where a guide will be waiting. In a virtual program September 19, the society presents authors Richard and Shirley Cushing Flint speaking on their book: Overhaul: a Social History of the ABQ Locomotive Repair Shops. The AT&SF railway maintenance shops were the state’s largest employer from the 1880s-1950s. Its payroll drove the local economy. For more info go to the website, albuqhistsoc.org.
In a related event September 25, the society presents a free open house for the historic Locomotive 2926,10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1833 8th St. NW.
Now, finally, it seems that no one doubts that climate change is happening. This article offers a continuation of a United Nations report’s findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) titled “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.” The scientific report has a summary for policymakers with four sections: The Current State of the Climate; Possible Climate Futures; Climate Information for Risk Assessment and Regional Adaptation; and Limiting Future Climate Change. The first two topics were reported, mostly verbatim, in Corrales Comment’s August 21 issue. The last two are offered here.
That 41-page summary is directed at you, as a citizen, and the people you choose to set policies in your best interest. So you need to understand what’s going on, and then do what it takes to persuade public and private decisionmakers to address the documented crises. Below are verbatim excerpts from the report’s summary for policymakers. Each of the scientists’ findings is followed by references to technical reports and other data from which they are derived. Those references are not included in what follows. Many of those findings include an assessment as to the probability of (or confidence in) accuracy; those are included here.
State Representative Daymon Ely has raised the alarm that consumers have not been compensated for losses incurred from “illegal door-to-door sales tactics that allegedly ensnared uninformed consumers into binding 20-year power purchase agreements that ended up costing homeowners more than they were currently paying PNM.” Corrales attorney Ely has filed a complaint with the N.M. Attorney General saying that office has allowed private attorneys to receive $700,000 which could have gone to people who he thinks were victims.
“The Attorney General’s office is failing New Mexico’s consumers and the public’s right to transparency and open government,” Ely has written. “I do not say that lightly but, after months of reviewing pleadings and orders, talking to consumer advocates and hearing directly from the Attorney General, that is the inescapable conclusion. And, without a change in the culture at the Attorney General’s office, that failure will be hard-wired into the AG’s future prosecutions.”
That stems from complaints in 2017 that a solar power company was using high-pressure tactics when dealing with homeowners. “In 2018, on behalf of 2,300 consumers, the AG’s office filed a strong complaint against the company. Two years later, the case was resolved. As a result of the settlement, the consumers received no compensation and the long-term agreements remained.”
Ely said, the most shocking thing was that while the defendant company paid money as part of the settlement, that was not distributed to homeowners. “But instead of the money going to the consumers who had been allegedly bilked, $700,000 went to the private attorneys hired by the AG, and the remaining $1.2 million was used to help fund the operations of the AG’s office.”
Aly criticized the AG’s office for hiring private attorneys rather than conducting the action in-house. “This was the type of case that the AG’s office pursued in-house through its consumer division in prior years. Why are these types of cases now being sent to outside, private attorneys?” he asked. The House District 23 representative argues that the office should use “outside private attorneys sparingly, and only in those cases where the AG does not have the expertise or the resources to handle such cases.”
Attorney General Hector Balderas responded to Ely’s allegations in an op-ed article in the August 15 Albuquerque Journal saying the Corrales lawmaker has failed to support requests for better funding for the AG’s office. “Why has State Rep. Daymon Ely authorized the transfer of $85 million out of the consumer protection fund instead of directly spending it on consumer protection benefits?” Balderas asked.
Volunteers are needed for two upcoming efforts to remove invasive plants and litter in the Corrales Bosque Preserve. On Saturday morning, September 18, the Corrales Bosque Advisory Commission will direct volunteer efforts to remove seed heads of the Ravenna grass in a willow swale east of the levee mile marker 1.0. “The Bosque Advisory Commission tries to do this project yearly in an attempt to reduce the number of seeds which will germinate in the spring to become new invasive plants,” the commission’s Joan Hashimoto said. “Even removal efforts of a few hours can be very helpful and make a difference.”
Bags to collect the seed heads will be provided, but volunteers should bring sun protection, gloves and hand pruners. The Ravenna grass seed head removal effort will begin at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 10:30.
Then about a month later, on Saturday, October 16, the commission will lead a trash removal effort at the Siphon Road entrance at the extreme north end of the preserve. Volunteers should bring gloves, but collection bags will be provided. That clean-up will start at 8:30 a.m., Hashimoto said.
For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Scott Manning
In 2018 the City of Rio Rancho entered into a power purchase agreement with Affordable Solar, an Albuquerque firm, to use electricity generated from the large solar electric farm located in Corrales’ Far Northwest Sector to partially power the nearby Wastewater Treatment Plant #2. Through the agreement, Rio Rancho purchases about two megawatts of electricity from the solar farm at a reduced rate and uses this electricity to cover about 20 percent of the power needs at the sewage treatment plant.
According to Annemarie Garcia, the Public Affairs Division Manager with the City of Rio Rancho, the City entered into the agreement because the project fits with the City’s goal of developing efficient public infrastructure to meet the current and future needs of its residents. The City says the power purchase agreement has been successful and that it would consider similar agreements in the future. The City does not intend to build on this specific agreement, however, because there are no plans to expand the electricity generation capacity of the solar farm.
Affordable Solar funded, built and continues to operate and own the solar array in the Far Northwest Sector on the Corrales-Rio Rancho boundary. The solar farm contains 4,230 photovoltaic panels that stretch over about 10 acres along Don Julio Road. The solar project is related to another by the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) which will construct a drainage channel from the Rio Rancho Industrial Park down to the Montoyas Arroyo The proposed new stormwater channel runs through the solar farm area.
The Corrales-based Health Security for New Mexicans campaign is collaborating with the N.M. Office of the Superintendent of Insurance to work through details of a plan to implement a state plan for near-universal health care. Corrales’ Mary Feldblum explained the current status in an email to supporters last month. “Representative Debbie Armstrong, Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, and several of us from the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign met with the superintendent of insurance, Russell Toal, and some of his staff earlier in the summer,” she reported.
“The superintendent wants to hire consultants to get going with the design process as soon as possible, rather than wait for an advisory council to be created (which will take some time to set up). We raised the importance of an advisory council in terms of oversight. Transparency and public input are key factors in this process to design our own New Mexico health plan,” she added.
“We presented several issue areas that we considered top priority to research. The Superintendent felt that researching the first four priority issue areas would be reasonable in the first year. Others will have to be researched in subsequent years of this multi-year process. She listed the top four priority issue areas to be researched during the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2022.
“1. Investigation of federal waivers and agreements (regarding Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act’s Waiver for State Innovation, etc.) that will set the parameters of what we can and cannot do. Obviously, we want to maximize federal funding, and compliance with current regulations is necessary to make the Health Security Plan a reality.
“2. Research that identifies all the topics and data required to be able to conduct a solid cost analysis of the Health Security Plan. After the structure and details of the Health Security Plan have been determined, a cost analysis will need to be conducted of the plan as designed (not as projected, which is what the three existing studies analyzed). By identifying what data points will be needed to do that analysis, we can make sure that all that information is collected. This research area should result in an overall blueprint of what needs to be done.
“3. Exploration of provider payment system methodologies, taking into consideration different settings —private practices, independent group practices, group practices affiliated with hospitals, and salaried health care providers (such as salaried physicians who work for hospitals). This research should include the pros and cons of fee for service, value-based options, and other payment mechanisms, including an all-payer rate payment system. (An all-payer system sets uniform reimbursement rates that apply to all health care providers and to all payers, or insurers, in a state.)
“This line of research should provide a range of options that might possibly work across settings and simplify what has become a complicated and error-prone coding system. The coding systems currently used by public and private insurers are complex, costly, time-consuming and frustrating for providers, and take time away from patient care.
“4. Research on global budgets for hospitals. Global budgets are another name for fixed operating budgets. Under a global budget system, hospitals and other health facilities have a predictable, sustainable revenue stream to cover their costs; they no longer need to rely on a complex fee-for-service system.”
Feldblum said Senator Ortiz y Pino’s 2021 global budgets bill (Senate Bill 351), which was introduced late in the session, would have created a task force whose goal was to come up with a global budget system that works for New Mexico, and to request funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop it. “Both Maryland and Pennsylvania have received substantial multi-year funding to develop such a system (within the current private insurance structure). The New Mexico Hospital Association testified in favor of SB 351, and this approach is expected to especially help rural hospitals in our state.”
Feldblum said the campaign’s priority issue areas included two others for the first year. “These two additional areas are bulk purchasing of drugs, medical equipment, and supplies, and information technology system requirements. Representative Armstrong has noted that the interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee will be working on the issue of bulk purchasing of drugs, so hopefully that will be moving forward separately. We are proud that New Mexico is the first state to take the groundbreaking step of developing its own health plan, and we know this wouldn’t be happening without the dedication of Health Security supporters.”
Re-named as the Corrales Ditch Run, the race along the valley’s ditch banks long associated with the Corrales Harvest Festival this year will be held the Sunday before, on September 19. More than 200 runners are expected. As in the past, the event includes a half-marathon, a ten-kilometer and a five-k race, all starting and ending at the Corrales Recreation Center.
New this year is a one-kilometer race for the littlest runners, starting well after the bigger folks have dashed off. That will be a family “fun run” with participants running around the rec center’s west soccer field. The half-marathon start time is 7:30 a.m., while the 10-k run begins at 8 a.m. and the five-k at 8:30. The youngest runners go at 10 a.m. Races depart from the ditch bank of the Corrales Acequia, at the west end of the Corrales Recreation Center.
The event, now in its 21st year, is organized as a fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club of Corrales and its new partner this year, Dave Gives Back, established in memory of Dave Cook, the Corrales hiker who never returned from a perilous climb in Colorado in 2016. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXV No.16 October 8, 2016 “Search Halted for Missing Corrales Mountaineer.”)
Race packets can be picked up at Ex Novo Brewery Saturday, September 18 noon to 5 p.m. or at the Corrales Recreation center on the day of the race from 6:30 a.m. on. You can register for the Corrales Ditch Run online at http://www.register. chronotrack.com. Competitions are arranged by age groups. For the half-marathon age categories, are 19 and under, 20-39, 40-59 and 60 plus. For the 10-k race, age categories are 14 and under, 15-19 and 20-29. For the 5-k, categories are 9 and under, 10-14, 15-29, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70 plus.
The half-marathon will leave the rec center and head south along the Corrales Acequia to Applewood Road and then west to the Corrales Main Canal and resume going south to Quirk’s Lane before turning north all the way to Camino Todos los Santos where racers will reverse course back to the rec center. The 10k race follows much the same route, but only to Applewood on the south and Sagebrush on the north, from which runners will return along the Corrales Acequia ditch bank.
The 5k route is south along the acequia to Applewood, then west to the Main Canal and then returning to the rec center via Ranchitos Road. For almost as long as there has been a Corrales Harvest Festival, there have been “runs” to accompany it. According to Sarah Cobb, who with Gary Mares and Rick Thaler organized the early runs, the ditch bank races began in the late 1980s. The original runs were called “fun runs.” For years, Gil’s Runners World in Albuquerque organized and directed the races. However, what Sarah Cobb remembers most vividly were some faux pas in monitoring the runners’ route.
One incident involved a race monitor who abandoned her post before the runners got to her; Cobb had to leap on her bicycle in hot pursuit of an entire errant pack and get them back on course. “More than once after the start of the race and with the runners out on the trail, I would get word that the front runner was taking the pack in the wrong direction. I peddled off to try to find the string of runners sometimes heading towards Sandia Pueblo and sometimes heading south to Alameda!”
Tom Woodward, an early years volunteer who later chaired the Fun Run, recalls there were always two runs, a 5k and 10k, and from the beginning the course routes maximized the ditch banks. Generally around 200 runners participated, mostly serious runners who loved the fun of running along the dirt banks and in lush greenery.
Although medals were originally given out, before long Corrales’ Hanselmann Pottery began contributing pottery as the awards. Hanselmann Pottery remained the valued source of most of the awards until about six years ago. To continue this popular tradition, pottery pieces from other local area artists were handed out. Cathy Veblen, of AnthroPottery for example, year after year has donated her pottery as the awards for the top female and male in each of the runs. Around 2011 the Kiwanis Club of Corrales assumed the administrative and production reins of the Harvest Festival, and that has included the ditch bank races as well.
This year, race sponsors include: Abrazo Homes, Metric LLC, Right Sized Inventory, RKL Sales (The Tackman Family), Ruffwear, Cottonwood Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Raylee Homes, Grady’s Performance Center, The Yates Family, French Funerals and Cremations, TriWest Fence, All Sick (a non-profit based in Corrales), Flagstaff Cart Specialties, Greta and Tom Keleher, Chris and Danielle Allen, Zach and Valerie Burkett, Joyce and Alan Weitzel and Gloria McConnell.
An illustrated talk about artwork in New Mexico produced through the federal government’s New Deal programs will be given Sunday afternoon, September 19 at the Old Church. The free talk event by the Corrales Historical Society and the N.M. Historical Society will be illustrated by images or murals, paintings, sculpture and posters produced for the New Deal over ten years starting in 1933.
Kathy Flynn, executive director of the National New Deal Preservation Association, will give the presentation, starting at 2 p.m. The State’s COVID safety restrictions will apply. Flynn said more than 90 communities in New Mexico have New Deal public art. “New Mexico was one of the most active states during the New Deal era from 1933 to 1943, particularly in the arts. Today it is home to over 100 works of art created through the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration, which our organization is dedicated to preserving for future generations.”
By 1935, more than half of the state’s population had been employed by a New Deal program; those included the Works Progress Administration, the Civil Works Administration, the Public Works Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the National Youth Administration and the Rural Electric Administration. Flynn established the National New Deal Preservation Association in 1998. The New Mexico chapter, whose board of directors president is Corrales’ Alana McGrattan, has raised more than $600,000 to restore and preserve those artworks in New Mexico.
Flynn’s presentation at the Old Church is funded with a grant from Intel.
If you’re curious about plans to create a new park east of Corrales Road in the central part of the village, you might want to stop by a new booth at the Sunday Growers’ Market. Illustrative panels are displayed behind a table for members of the Village-appointed Corrales Interior Drain Committee which is gathering public input for recommendations to the mayor and Village Council. The long drainage feature and ditch bank roads owned and maintained by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District between Corrales Road and the river are valued as a green belt, wildlife habitat, access to residences and recreational trails, as well as kids’ routes to and from schools.
Current chair of the Interior Drain Committee is Doug Findley, son of the founder of the Corrales Bosque Preserve, the late Jim Findley. He was joined by Lou Murphy tabling at the September 5 Growers’ Market. Among those who stopped at the table were Conservancy District Director Mike Hamman, Mayor Jo Anne Roake and Elena Kayak, former chair of the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
“We had about six to eight people stop,” Murphy reported, “some who do not live in the village but it prompted others to stop. We handed out more surveys to be completed.” A survey has been mailed to residents near the Corrales Interior Drain to learn what changes, if any, should be considered to the long drainage ditch east of Corrales Road. The cover letter accompanying the questionnaire explained its purpose.
“The Corrales Interior Drain was constructed in the 1930s to lower the water table and reclaim flooded farmland. The Interior Drain runs from East Valverde Road south to the Corrales Clear Ditch and Bosque Preserve, culminating just south of East Meadowlark Lane. The 26 acre, 120-foot-wide drain is owned and maintained by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy.
“Today, the Interior Drain serves many uses, providing access to homes, farms and the elementary school, recreation for biking, horseback riding, hiking, fishing and bird watching. It is a vital nature sanctuary with entry to the Bosque Preserve. In recent years, use of the ditch banks along the Corrales Interior Drain have given rise to concerns about increased traffic and associated dust and potential contamination of water in the drainage ditch.
“Concerns have been raised about children’s safety especially as they walk or ride bicycles along the ditch going to and from Corrales Elementary School. Villagers have long thought about how the ditch right-of-way might serve community uses while maintaining MRGCD property ownership and drainage mandate.
“In 2020, Mayor Jo Anne Roake appointed The Corrales Interior Drain Committee tasked to make recommendations on the drain’s uses, preservation and potential. Since the Village of Corrales has no ownership in the land involved, the committee acknowledges that its eventual recommendations would need concurrence from the MRGCD to be implemented. The district’s chief concern is expected to be retaining full use of the ditch and ditchbanks to perform routine maintenance.
“One of the first things the committee did was to document what is physically in the ditch and on the ditchbanks, how the land is now used and what adjacent features should be taken into consideration, such as homes, trails and Corrales Elementary School and the playground there.
“Suggested opportunities for future use of the ditch that runs from Valverde Road on the north to East Meadowlark on the south, include a Fire Department fire suppression water line to fight fires east of the drain; horse riding; hiking; children’s access to school grounds; a pond; a green corridor for appreciation of nature and wildlife habitat; a butterfly garden; and improvements in air quality for neighbors as a result of reductions in dust.”
As a preliminary concept, the committee is considering possible uses for three conditions along the ditch: ponds, water areas and xeric locations. A photo essay of the varying parts of the long ditch can be found in the centerfold pages of Corrales Comment’s May 22, 2021 issue.
A self-guided tour of Corrales artists’ studios, galleries and other art spaces returns the weekend of September 10-12. A map of participating studios and venues can be picked up at sites all along Corrales’ commercial area. A good starting point is the preview exhibition at Casa Vieja, 4541 Corrales Road, where examples of work by participating artists can be experienced. The preview gallery opens Friday, September 10 1-4 p.m., and will be open throughout the weekend 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The tour is free. Original artwork can be purchased throughout the weekend, often direct from the artist. See Corrales Comment’s August 21 issue with a centerfold photospread featuring two of the artists, painter Linda Dillenback and jewelry-maker Paul Knight. This year’s tour features many who have exhibited in the past and several new participants. Among those returning are Barbara Clark, Krysteen Waszak, Sandra Corless, Susana Erling, Ken Duckert, Jeff Warren, Bonnie Mitisek, Lynne Pomeranz, Sue Ellen Rael, Rick Snow and Juan Wijngaard.
In addition to those are, in alphabetical order: Chip and Linda Babb, Laura Balombini, Corky Baron, Michael Baron, Kevin Black, Elaine Bolz, John Boyes, Linda Boyes, Lynda Burch, Barbara Burzillo, Candace Cavellier, Christiane Couvert, Diane Cutter, Linda Dillenback, Amy Ditto, Denise Elvrum, Rex Funk, Myra Gadson, Terri Garcia, Doreen Garten, Renee Brainard Gentz, Tricia George, Cherrymae Golston, Roger Green, Karla Hackman, Gail Grambling Harrison,
D.L. Horton, Elizabeth Huffman, Paul Knight, Fran Krukar, Urey Lemen, Victoria Mauldin, Sandra Moench, Rita Noe, Jenn Noel, Sharon Patrick, Martha Rajkay, Leah Henriquez Ready, Liz Roberts, Maggie Y. Robinson, Barbara Rosen, Sharon Rutherford, Dave Sabo, Cristina Sanchez, Peggy Schey, Mickie Sharp, Tricia Simmons, Emily Spykman, Ivana Starcevic, Greta Stockebrand, Gale Sutton-Barbere, Chris Turri, Gina Voelker Bobrowski, Ken Wallace and Beth Waldron Yuhas.
By Scott Manning
Second in a series
Given the ongoing drought and expected water shortages from the Rio Grande due to climate change, well water is being eyed in Corrales and elsewhere —even though the aquifers here are sustainably replenished only by river flow and snow in the Sandias. The drought has impacted the past two growing seasons for farmers here. Some Corrales farmers rely on available surface water to irrigate their fields. This past winter, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) anticipated further droughts and advised farmers to reduce their farming operations because access to irrigation water for the duration of summer 2021 was not guaranteed.
These water restrictions are difficult for farmers, but there is an alternative: pumping well water from the aquifer below the Corrales Valley. According to Mike Hamman, chief engineer and CEO of the Conservancy District, his office has not encountered many farmers who have applied to pump well water rather than irrigation with surface water. In contrast, more farmers use well water in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District.
Hamman suggests that certain obstacles may stand in the way of farmers adopting well water pumping. First, the farmer would need well water rights. In 1956, the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer “declared” the Rio Grande Underground Water Basin, and closed the aquifer to new wells for large-scale farming. This policy limited large farm wells but allowed for domestic well drilling.
Some longtime farmers in Corrales who began farming with groundwater before 1956 have groundwater rights which allow for well water pumping. But other farmers would need to obtain groundwater rights before they could begin pumping. Second, a farmer switching to groundwater would likely have to invest in additional water infrastructure and technologies like a drip irrigation system. This infrastructure can be costly to implement compared to the cheap and easy use of surface irrigation water.
Despite these obstacles, some smaller farmers who grow high-value crops like fruits and vegetables or delicate plants have embraced groundwater pumping. One such farmer is Courtenay Koontz, owner of the tree nursery Trees of Corrales. For Koontz, the adoption of a groundwater-fed drip irrigation system was the best choice for his business. Koontz explains that the physical constraints of his farming operation require a drip system: plants in the nursery are planted in containers such that they are elevated above ground. A simple surface water irrigation scheme that floods a field would not work to water these plants. Koontz also needs consistent water delivery and quality to ensure that the plants in the nursery thrive. Drip irrigation delivers clean aquifer water to the trees in a set amount on a routine basis.
In contrast, surface water irrigation leads to irregular watering cycles in which a field is flooded and soaked with water and then dried. Additionally, the quality of surface irrigation water is subject to environmental and human factors beyond the control of the farmer: surface water may contain pesticides, debris, or seeds from upstream plants. Koontz wants to limit this water variability.
Koontz says he prefers to use groundwater over surface water, and he would convert all of his farming operations to groundwater if he had sufficient water rights. Koontz owns groundwater rights, and his business is subject to oversight by the Office of the State Engineer. The State Engineer limits the volume of groundwater Trees of Corrales can use each month; Koontz must submit water records demonstrating his compliance with the agreement. And should the water authorities suspect water overuse, they can directly verify it.
This kind of agreement between farmers and the State Engineer aims to give farmers access to groundwater and ensure responsible use of the aquifer. Water authorities across the state are monitoring water supplies because New Mexico communities and farmers rely on this precious resource. Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury was reported earlier this month warning that “New Mexico is looking at potentially losing almost all of its snowpack in the next 50 years.”
Stansbury said the challenge is how to prepare for that while preserving “cultural practices, agriculture and survival of our communities.”
If the aquifer under Corrales is unlikely to be adequately recharged by Colorado snowmelt in the future due to climate change, there’s another recharge method already under way.
The City of Rio Rancho is treating and reinjecting what has been considered wastewater back into the aquifer. The idea is that some amount of wastewater can be cleaned and recycled back into the aquifer rather than continually depleting it. The City of Rio Rancho is the first municipality in New Mexico to implement this kind of water reuse project. It began in 2001. By 2004, a Water Reuse Plan was published, and the City began to construct the infrastructure required to implement a full water purification and injection system.
In this system, reclamation centers and a water treatment facility filter and purify wastewater. This treated wastewater is stored at the pump station which pumps the treated water to the injection site for further purification and ultimate injection back into the aquifer. The project required around $25 million to implement. The injection project became fully operational in summer 2017. The system currently injects between 250,000 and 650,000 gallons of treated water every day with an average of 400,000 gallons per day.
Annemarie Garcia with the City of Rio Rancho says that the injection project is successful. Purified water is being reinjected into the aquifer, and Rio Rancho residents have been supportive of the initiative. The City anticipates that the Office of the State Engineer will award the City a gallon-for-gallon credit for stored, purified water, meaning that the project will become more cost-effective with time.
But the project does face challenges. First, the injection system is occasionally brought off-line for maintenance and repairs. When offline, the system does not put water back into the aquifer. The City intends to address this problem by constructing a second injection site that is connected to the same water treatment facility. The goal is to create redundancy so that water injection can still occur at one site if the other is taken off-line.
Second, the purified water must be tested for water quality so that the City satisfies state permit standards. Water quality testing is absolutely essential to the project, but testing is expensive. The Village of Corrales has also considered how it will use its water resources. In 2018, the Village formed the Corrales Water Advisory Board (CWAB) to consider how the community should manage its water resources going forward. Don Turton, Brad Sumrall, Maryann Wasiolek, Wendy Fidao Bali and Burton Coxe were board members, and they published the Water Advisory Board Report 2020 with recommendations. In particular, the report recommends that the Village participate in existing water monitoring programs, extend the liquid waste collection line through more of Corrales, and promote water education programs. The full report is available on the Village website.
By Stephani Dingreville
Three hundred and ten students are getting back to a new normal at Corrales’ only public school, where some new programs are being developed. Corrales Elementary is following all Albuquerque Public School guidelines for a safe re-entry. According to Principal Liv M. Baca-Hochhausler, “APS has installed ultra-violet air purifiers in each classroom as a mitigation strategy, each classroom also has exterior windows and/or doors that are kept open to ensure adequate ventilation.
“The generous Corrales Elementary PTA has purchased wearable microphones for each teacher to assist in saving their voices as we are all wearing masks and it can be difficult to speak loud enough (over the air purifiers, swamp coolers and muffling masks) for our students to hear.” Along with this new technology for the teachers, each student has been issued his or her own technical device, iPads for kindergarteners and first graders and Chromebooks for second through fifth graders.
Teacher Eugenia Danen, who has a bachelor's degree in science, has fully revamped the school’s “STEAM Den,” and will be providing both technology and science instruction for all of the students. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering arts and math. Special Education teachers Ursula Kelly and Nancy Felter-Shelton are working to develop a school-wide enrichment model (SEM), ensuring that all students receive opportunities to extend and enrich their learning.
Last fall, Principal Baca-Hochhausler was awarded a $5,000 grant from the APS Education Foundation with a proposal she wrote entitled “Citizen Science, STEAM and Stewardship.”
The award was spent on supplies for teachers and students to complete naturalist projects while in a remote setting, and while back in person this year, students and teachers were provided with “naturalist kits” to use in the classroom or at home. Kelly says: “Nancy and I developed our SEM program around the concept of being a naturalist because it meets kids where they are and makes it more academic and formal. It also gets kids off-screen and into the real world, ideally."
According to the school counselor, Gabrielle Anzures, the students are “happy to be back in school with their teachers and friends,” and are “weathering change better than any of us imagined.” Anzures is working to put together self-regulation kits for the students this year since she has seen a bit more “need for re-direction with care and compassion for student behavior, because they crave attention.” Donations for this effort can be made by calling the school.
Parents are also happy to have their children back in school. Kristen Coffman, Corraleña and mother to two girls in kindergarten and second grade, said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to have our kids back in person at Corrales. The girls have transitioned well. They are used to wearing masks and Corrales has facilitated a welcoming and safe environment thus far.” She is “optimistic that [the kids] will be able to get through this school year with minimal interruptions to time in the classroom with [their] amazing teachers.”
School Principal Baca-Hochhausler said she “would like to bestow a heartfelt thank you to our village community for continuing to entrust us with their children’s safety and education. We are the only public school in the village, and I think I speak for each and every staff member when I say that we all feel truly blessed to be at Corrales Elementary.
“And, thank you for your patience when traffic gets backed up on Corrales Road during drop-off and pick-up!”
Data from the 2020 census has been released indicating Corrales’ population remains well shy of 10,000. If the tally is to be believed, this village has grown by less than 500 people since the 2010 census. Corrales’ population was 8,329 a decade ago, up from 7,334 in the year 2000. The count last year puts us at 8,778, said to represent a 5.39 percent increase over 2010.
The official U.S. Census recognizes Corrales as New Mexico’s 24th largest town. It remains a wealthy town, even by national standards. The median annual household income here is $85,580, substantially higher than the median household income across the entire United States, which stands at $65,712. While the median household income is reported to be $85,580, the average household income here is even more impressive at $120,363. The median is found by establishing the income level at which half of the population is below that, and half above. The census places the poverty rate in Corrales at 4.95 percent of the population.
Another measure of economic prosperity is the per capita income, which was reported at $52,315. That is one and a half times greater than per capita income for the entire metropolitan area and twice that for the state.
The recently released 2020 census data indicates that 61.4 percent of Corrales residents has a college degree (a bachelor’s or higher) which is nearly double that for metro area. The median age is 55, meaning, again, that half the population is below that age and half are older than 55. Statewide, the median age was pegged at 34.6 years.
The median home value here is $447,600, revealing that half the homes are valued at more than that and half less. For many years, Village officials have assumed Corrales’ population had surpassed 10,000 or soon would. That is a benchmark with legal implications.
By Doug Simon
Next month, work should be under way to create a new wetlands area in the Corrales Bosque Preserve. A collaboration involving The Nature Conservancy, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) and the Village of Corrales would use stormwater flowing through the Harvey Jones Flood Control Channel and effluent from a Rio Rancho sewage treatment plant to irrigate about 10 acres adjacent to the river.
SSCAFCA advertised a request for bids for project construction in early September with a target of breaking ground by mid-October. Sarah Hurteau of The Nature Conservancy provided details about converting the stormwater outfall, between the end of the channel and the Rio Grande, using a “green stormwater infrastructure” approach in collaboration with Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), SSCAFCA, the City of Rio Rancho, and the Village of Corrales. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.2 March 6, 2021 “Stormwater, Treated Sewage Would Be Used for Bosque.”)
Additional funding for the project will be provided by a private developer as mitigation for another project elsewhere in the watershed. The Jones Channel has functioned as a storm drain carrying rain from Rio Rancho and Corrales into the floodplain of the river since the early 1990s. Deposited sediments over those years will be re-contoured and new earthen channels will be opened. Removal of accumulated sediment will allow bosque vegetation to connect to groundwater resources helping to sustain cottonwood trees and other plants throughout the year.
Stormwater from the Montoyas Arroyo and the Lomitas Negras Arroyo watersheds will be slowed and diverted through the proposed wetlands before emptying into the river. But an even more consistent and reliable supply of irrigation water will come from Rio Rancho’s sewage treatment plant at the edge of the Montoyas Arroyo and Highway 528. That effluent would provide a perennial 4-5 million gallons a day.
The sewage treatment plant has operated with a discharge permit to send effluent to the river through a pipeline that runs along the channel. When the plant is operating correctly, those millions of gallons of wastewater will be cleaner than stormwater coming down the channel in the Montoyas Arroyo. Hurteau said the stormwater diversion in the wetlands area uses the power of nature to filter and mitigate pollution as the last of a series of stormwater quality improvement sites, expanding the effectiveness of features already in place upstream. Water quality features upstream will capture floating trash and sediment for later removal. The new wetland area will allow water to slow down, spread out across the river floodplain, and sink in using natural channels, with care being taken to maintain flood protection to homes nearby, she said.
Those constructed features in the Montoyas and Lomitas Negras Arroyos will capture floating trash, and slow-moving water will allow plants and soils to act on pollutants such as automotive chemical residue along roadways. Those would be broken down through bioremediation, so pollutants from roadways are removed before they end up in the river.
This wetland also is designed to reduce bank erosion along the river. Many months of planning have gone into ensuring the design resolves existing flow issues, preventing mosquitos, and maintaining flood control capability. Hurteau said more than 5,000 postcards were sent out seeking public input and hearings were held in February and March. The team met with relevant agencies and environmental groups to review the conceptual design.
The Jones Channel in the Montoyas Arroyo and the Dulcelina Curtis Channel in the Lomitas Negras Arroyo are named for the pioneering work those two Corraleños did to control damaging stormwater in a wide territory west of Corrales. They were early members of the Corrales Watershed Board, which was subsumed by SSCAFCA when it was established by the N.M. Legislature in 1990. (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXV, No.13, August 19 & October 21, 2006 “Corrales Battles Historic Flooding, Threat at Jones Channel.”)
Back in March, the Corrales Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission recommended that the wetlands plan include a trail connecting bosque areas north and south of the Jones Channel outfall. “Our commission recommends that potential pedestrian use in the area be considered in the design,” Commission Chairperson Susan Zimmerman wrote to Village Administrator Ron Curry. “We are concerned that walkers and possibly bicyclists will make their own unofficial trails in the area if they are not designated. Simple, meandering dirt pathways are what we envision.
“We understand that the conservancy has assumed pedestrians would use the existing connection with the acequia trail from the west end of the area. We are concerned that folks would want to get closer to the river, and that this could create a potential problem if not considered in the overall plan.”
This time of year, Corrales is primed to harvest an abundance of fall festivities. With cooler days, chiles roasting, monsoon rains tapering off and leaves beginning to turn, it’s clear fall is in the air. But so is COVID. Even before Harvest Festival launches September 25, the village will open up for the Corrales Art and Studio Tour September 10-12; the Corrales Ditch Run (formerly known as Corrida de Corrales) September 19; the “Got Art, Corrales” fundraiser for the Corrales Arts Center at the Old Church September 11; a concert in La Entrada Park September 18 featuring trumpeter Bobby Shew; a September 19 presentation at the Old Church on New Deal artwork produced in New Mexico during the Great Depression; and a meet-and-greet for Pet Mayor candidates in La Entrada Park also on September 11.
Mask-wearing will be required, if not strongly suggested, at each of these. The coronavirus is on a new surge here, as elsewhere, even though 77.1 percent of adult New Mexicans had been vaccinated by September 1. At that time, 399 COVID-19 cases had been recorded among Corrales residents during the pandemic. Statewide, 4,552 New Mexicans had died from the disease, and nearly a quarter-million have been diagnosed with it. Nationwide, on a typical day 1,500 people die from it, and 100,000 are hospitalized with it. Again this year, the Kiwanis Club of Corrales has organized the Harvest Festival, led by Lane McIntyre. Regarding pandemic precautions, “We continue to closely watch everything going on with a close eye on Balloon Fiesta and state regulations,” McIntyre said.
As usual, it takes dozens of volunteers to pull off an event as large as the Corrales Harvest Festival has become since it started as the Apple Harvest Festival in the mid-1980s. “We are actively looking for more volunteers, and having them head to our website for sign-up.” Find the “Volunteer” button at the top far right side of the home page at http://www.corralesharvestfestival.com.
The entertainment line-up for the upcoming Harvest Festival includes Mood Swing at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by Powerdrive at 1 p.m. and then Last Call at 3 p.m. On Sunday, Zoltan and the Fortune Tellers will perform at 11 a.m., followed by Mezcla Latina at 1 p.m., and then January Storm at 3 p.m. At 77 percent, New Mexico has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the nation. But, as Mayor Jo Anne Roake advised recently, “the highly contagious delta variant is like ants at a picnic. Keep wearing a mask, social distance and avoid crowded settings.”
She passed along the following recommendations from the Fire Department’s Tanya Lattin. “If you are sick with any of the following: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, get tested for COVID-19.
“If you’ve been exposed to a COVID-19 positive person or someone who is sick but not tested, or if you have traveled outside New Mexico or the United States, get tested. If you care for someone who is immuno-compromised and you have been to a crowded indoor or outdoor setting, testing is advised. Testing is best done five days after an exposure or travel. Anyone can test, and it is free and easy. Providers require appointments, and that can be arranged at
Lattin suggested further information on testing can be found at New Mexico Department of Health, https://cvtestreg.nmhealth.org/