At the Audubon Water, Birds and Conservation Summit on June 15th, participants heard about the Western Rivers Action Network and their efforts to address river health. Insightful presentations by panelists got people thinking. There will be a similar workshop in Las Cruces on June 29th.
It sure got me thinking. Junior water users - primarily municipalities and industries - are not supposed to have priority over senior water users - mostly tribes and farmers. But no one wants to tell a city 'no.' State water administrators bend over backwards to avoid it and appear to have assigned them a nearly unquestioned primacy over others. The agencies, engineers, hydrologists, lawyers, lobbyists and
consultants who represent the 'juniors' are in the pilot's seat of the ship and no court adjudication is on the horizon.
Take Rio Rancho and Intel for example. They don't have all the water rights for the water they're using, but no one is telling them no, or slow. Take the oil and gas industry that consumes and permanently pollutes an un-tracked amount of fresh groundwater. No one is telling them no, or slow, or to collect data (or even follow the law.) Just the farmers. They are hearing 'no' quite a bit these days.
Water data also seems framed to benefit junior users. The huge place in pie charts for agriculture often counts flows in the river and riverside drains, ditches and acequias of the inner valley that support flora, wildlife habitat and, significantly, aquifer recharge from those waterways and farms. All that water is "agriculture." Naturally, the eye is drawn to that magnificently fat pie slice when the need to conserve comes up.
Data presenters also frequently make a distinction between "Economic Development" and "Agriculture." Like farmers are doing it for fun. Industry and the land speculation arts real estate are considered real economic development that must have adequate water supplies. To some, farming is a quaint relic of the 19th century. Like sunbonnets.
Where does birdwatching and New Mexico's huge outdoor economy fit in? Well, if it can't join the Chamber it isn't economic development.
A Tiwa* Pueblo, one of at least a dozen that existed when Coronado arrived in 1540, sat where Alameda Elementary School is today. The County trenched sewer lines throughout the valley without letting archaeology get in the way. This included cutting through the school site and the site of the old church further west. Crews only slowed down for history when they turned up churchyard bones.
In other valley locations the County has plopped big deep drainage ponds within yards of known pueblo ruins and other archaeological sites. They broke no laws, sadly. Without use of federal funding clearance surveys aren't required. There are no restrictions on private land at all. A developer may have to note a site with a subdivision action but the only time it slows anything down is when human bones are found. Some requirements are triggered then but that's mostly about respect for the dead. It's not the same thing as respect for history.
Oh well. An engineer I worked for once said, "What does an old adobe wall have to tell me?" I actually tried to answer but it was rhetorical and he waved me away.
According to church history and resident Barbara Santillanes Tapia, there were 7000 Tiguex Indians and a Spanish Mission at Alameda in 1620. Six years later the Indian population had dropped to 2000 and by the time of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 there were only 300 Indians at Alameda. Along with Sandia Pueblo residents, they actively participated in the 1680 revolt and an earlier uprising in 1650.
Lively place once, this valley.
*Tiwa is the same as Tiguex. I'm not consistent in usage. Sue me.
Father Troy borrowed some chains from my uncle, my mother's brother, to go get rocks for the foundation of the church, rocks from a place they called La Piedra del Rayo, beyond Edith. He dug those rocks with a team of horses.
The old road to Juan Tabo Canyon from this valley isn't a road anymore. But you can still see it on the aerial from 1963 and google maps, a road scar running east-northeast from the valley through the old Coronado airport, also gone now. Like a lot of old features in the landscape of growing cities, the road became obsolete, largely forgotten and is nearly or completely lost.
It was the direct route between places barely known to us today and used for purposes now deemed unnecessary - like hunting, herding cows and sheep and hauling wood and rocks. It makes a bee-line from the early Spanish village and even earlier Tiguex pueblo at Alameda to the closest canyon in the Sandias.
The villagers in Alameda lost their adobe church, and everything else, in a flood in 1904. In 1907 the community began construction of a new church under the direction of Father Troy. To assure that this one would never melt in a flood, it was built of stone - huge granite boulders and sandstone rocks from the Sandia Mountains. Parishioners pulled wagons and dragged giant boulders in chains behind teams of horses between 1907 and 1911 when main construction was undertaken. This explains the deep scars that make the road bed still visible today.
The church, Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, was consecrated in 1913 making this is the 100th anniversary of the "new" church. It will be celebrated. The road won't. The road has been eclipsed, truncated and duplicated in name. "Alameda Boulevard" slices across the valley carrying commuter and truck traffic across the Rio Grande to and from Albuquerque's sprawling westside and Interstate 25.
But you can still see a little bit of the road in the valley for a short stretch between Fourth Street and Edith Boulevard - an unremarkable segment except for the view to the east. Where once a mental institution dominated the mesa, now the Balloon Fiesta Park and Museum command the mesa and the view.
What started the 1540 Tiguex War in what is now the Albuquerque area was what ended the Battle of Glorieta during the Civil War - butchery of innocent equines.
At Glorieta Union soldiers snuck to Confederate supply wagons and killed all the mules. In the fields along the Rio Grande the Tiguex killed the Spaniards' mules and horses.
They were the first the Tiguex had ever seen. The superiority afforded the Spanish mounted on the new beasts played into the massacre no doubt, as did the horses' offense of being allowed by their Spanish masters to graze and trample Tiguex fields that terrible winter. The horses were priceless to the Spanish and no doubt highly trained, carefully bred and valued above nearly all else.
It was a turn-key event. Sad to imagine but no less part of the history that "started badly and stayed that way a long time."
pueblo called Puaray was large at the time of Coronado's 1540 entrada. It was in the northern portion of a collection of at least a dozen
villages in and along the Rio Grande in the Albuquerque area. With the notable and treasured exception of Kuaua
at Coronado Monument, almost all of the Tiguex ruins are lost.
and another pueblo ruin called Maigua were both close to Alameda, site of yet another large Tiwa pueblo located where the elementary school is today. Like elsewhere in the valley, remnants of
Alameda pueblo were used as road base in the 1930’s and largely forgotten or
mining destroyed any archaeological or paleontological sites ever
located along the eastern edge of the Rio Grande. A quick comparison of
aerials shows the massive extent of earth removal and rearrangement. As the area where “Renaissance Center”
Costco is located at Montano Road was mined in the 1970s,
fossil hunters prowled the area. I also remember a man who discovered
tiny ancient hand-made beads on his gravel roof and was forever thereafter obsessed with
the search for more.
Site grading for new buildings, trenching for pipelines and utilities
and excavation for drainage ponds ::coughBernalilloCountycough:: has completely altered physical history of the once great Tiguex Provencia as well.
Puaray, like so many other pueblo ruins in the vicinity of today's Albuquerque, is gone, gone, gone.
'A water right is a
hunting license not a warranty deed.
Overheard at the 19th Annual New
Mexico Water Dialogue Thursday, January 10, 2013
title was 'Reviving Water Planning: Successes, Challenges and
Opportunities' but I prefer mine. One overwhelming point that stuck with me from the day: hard choices
are going to need to be made about water. And those choices can be made more equitably
through water planning - a collaborative effort involving varied
There were a couple of elephants in the already well-populated room
at the Pueblo Cultural Center. One was called-out by an attendee - the
City, more accurately but irritatingly, the Albuquerque/Bernalillo
County Water Utility Authority, to whom we are to be eternally grateful
for not having included 'wastewater' in their name. The 'they' there is
actually nobody but well-paid staff and a fluid mix of representatives
from the member governments. It's a structure, I believe, designed to
distance it's member board from accountability and its actions from
public transparency. The elephantine status comes from being the biggest
water user in the State.
Fall! It was The Summer of Goats. Sun Star Herb farm’s Horned Locust
Division was in residence at the Weed Ranch and I fell in love with an entire species, not just a few cute representatives. I
never knew any goats before and presumed they were like sheep ( not that I've known any sheep - that way.) But no.
They’re intelligent and individualistic and perhaps underestimated. Big Dog dog said that sounded like the Libertarians and he wasn't into no Libertarian goats. Even 100 of them. He focused on the herd dogs who drove him mad with desire from the
other side of the fence. Teasing him about being a city dog.
some point during their two-week residency he learned a fun trick of
rushing the fence to spook the goats. (This is apparently Lesson One of Herding for Dummies.) He did this one day as they were
headed into the corral and little goats scattered everywhere out of what had
been a leisurely and orderly procession toward the gate. This procession was led by a large old male goat.
When I had asked Amanita (Division Head) about the alpha goats I assumed the leaders would be the males - that patriarchy's ugly grasp extended as far into goat kingdom as elsewhere. She said the males will lead in unfamiliar situations where more bravado is required. Female leaders know where the good grass is. Sounds about right.
This male leader was
multi colored; brown, black and tan with some white bits - a calico
goat. He had pendulous testicles that looked disproportionately huge and
burdensome. He looked like he carried the weight of all the combined planetary maleness - like responsibility the next presidency, global warming and how many coyotes might be out there all rested on, and might almost fit in those nuts. And it looked damned uncomfortable.
It is all about the cottonwood cotton and fallen cottonwoods and cottonwood limbs. And weeds. The old female tree I decided not to build under - thereby moving the i-house's bright orange flex unit into a neighbor's view of the Sandias, a source of no small amount of ill-will - is busting with cotton this year and sending huge cotton chunks airborne in what will be an ultimately unfruitful attempt to multiply after sprouting in horse water buckets and mudholes.
Before the green pellet-like balls burst open, the weight makes the soft wood prone to cracking even on not so windy days. I lost an entire tree in a recent wind gust and two other trees shed huge branches recently - making magnificent crashing sounds like T-Rex in the bosque.