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Water Management Agencies
Currently, three water management agencies are members of MRCOG, and they play an active role in water planning: the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA), the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), and the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA)
AMAFCA was created by the New Mexico Legislature with the Arroyo Flood Control Act of 1963 as a local government with responsibility "to protect persons and property from flash floods". The need for control of flood water from arroyos had become apparent in the 1950's when a combination of urban development (pavement and rooftops) and removal of natural vegetation on the mesas around Albuquerque increased storm runoff into the valley. At the same time, the Rio Grande riverbed was rising due to silt. Since establishment, AMAFCA has overseen construction of numerous channels and the lining or stabilization of a number of arroyos.
A five member elected Board administers the Authority. The terms are for six years and are staggered. Board members are not paid for their services.
The MRGCD was established by act of the New Mexico Legislature in 1923. The district was organized in 1925 as a political subdivision of the State of New Mexico with "all the powers of a public or municipal corporation."
The need for the district began as early as May 1874 when a major flood devastated the valley. Prior to this flood there were 125,000 acres of land under cultivation in the middle Rio Grande valley. By 1915, there were only 50,000 acres under cultivation. The Rio Grande stream bed was rising from large amounts of silt causing increased danger of flooding and an intensifying problem of draining the flat valley lands. It was another major flood in May 1920 that caused the Legislature to set in motion the processes which led to the creation of the MRGCD.
In 1927, an amended Conservancy Act broadened and clarified the powers of a conservancy district. These included:
- Providing and maintaining flood protection, river control, drainage, and water storage for supplementing irrigation needs
- Constructing and maintaining distribution systems for irrigation
- Other improvements for public health, safety, convenience, and welfare either in cooperation with the U.S government or any department under federal laws or to districts organized for the purpose of making improvements under the power in the act.
The MRGCD encompasses an area that is nearly 150 miles north to south and one to five miles in width. The district includes 238,790 acres with 28,500 acres of Tribal land. There are 128,787 acres of irrigable land between Cochiti Dam and the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro County. Within these boundaries, the District maintains approximately 85 drains, 15 canals, 79 acequias, 117 laterals, 24 feeders, and 27 wasteways.
The MRGCD extends south beyond the southern boundary of the MRCOG planning area into Socorro County. In 2000, approximately 192,000 persons resided inside the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) portion of the MRGCD.
There is an elected board of directors consisting of seven persons. Three of the Board members are from and represent Bernalillo County, one member is from and represents each of the counties of Sandoval, Valencia, and Socorro. The seventh Board member is elected from the District at large.
SSCAFCA was established by the New Mexico Legislature in 1991. The district generally covers Corrales and Rio Rancho and the drainage to the west. The Legislature directed that a flood control system be developed by an Authority. In 1992, voters in the covered area approved a bond issue that allowed the Authority to begin operation.
Rapid growth and easily erodible soils in the area had created a serious flooding problem. Floods had caused damage to property and polluted the Rio Grande with sediment. In addition, many of the arroyos were rapidly eroding both deeper and wider from a combination of increased flows from newly developed areas and increased traffic (foot/vehicle/horse) from those same areas. The district has been operating since 1992 to protect against flooding and reduce the eroding of arroyos.
There is an elected board of directors consisting of five persons. Terms are six years, staggered so that one or two board members are elected every two years.