ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is trying to tackle an old problem at dozens of city parks. It’s the aging irrigation systems at some parks, which can lead to wasted water and may take a lot of time and money to fix. According to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the city has 31 parks with irrigation systems that are more than 50-years old.
“That doesn’t mean that they run horrible, but we just recognize that we have some aged systems,” Mark Chavez, Associate Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said. “Generally speaking, our irrigation system is good within the City of Albuquerque but we are always looking for opportunities to improve. Specifically, on some of those aged systems within our inventory.”
According to a recent city council report and confirmed by Chavez, the city has a total of about 120 acres of parkland that need irrigation upgrades. While Chavez couldn’t give an amount on how much water is wasted in these outdated systems, the Parks and Recreation Department said one irrigation renovation project can help them reach 20% of water savings.
“Some of the parks that we improved, we’ve seen results of hundreds of thousands if not, you know, a million gallons of savings off of a renovation and that’s really the goal,” Chavez said.
Renovating all 120 acres needed costs around $11 million. The department is currently applying for a state grant to help pay for irrigation upgrades at Netherwood Park and Phil Chacon Park and to reline the pond at Ladera Golf Course.
“This current administration has really, they’ve really encouraged us to pursue alternative ways to generate funding, to be creative in other words to generate funding for irrigation replacements,” Chavez said.
He said Netherwood Park has some outdated and rusting irrigation equipment this grant would replace. At Phil Chacon Park, Chavez said prairie dogs have chewed through parts of the irrigation system, which is something updated equipment could prevent.
When deciding which irrigation systems at which parks to upgrade, the city looks at the age of the system along with other factors including how many maintenance issues a park has seen and changes to how the park is used.
According to the Parks Department, it mostly uses funds from GO Bonds to complete the irrigation renovations. It said it renovates systems at about five parks per year.
“Green space is super important for the quality of life for the city of Albuquerque,” Chavez said. “Green space can’t be green without water and of course we live in a desert, so water’s really important. We want to take care of that resource but we also want to provide green space for the community.”