A new filter that traps all of the litter people dump into arroyos could be the solution to keeping a lot of trash out of the Rio Grande.
“You’re going to have really dirty ugly trash here, smaller trash there and hopefully not much right there,” said Jerry Lovato, the executive engineer for AMAFCA, as he pointed to the layout of the upcoming Lower Bear Tributary Arroyo project.
Lovato says they’ve designed a three-tiered filtration system that will sift out all kinds of trash and sediment as stormwater rushes toward the Rio Grande.
“You get big debris in car one, smaller debris in car two and [even] smaller debris in car three,” said Lovato.
Filtration systems inside drainage areas are unique. In fact, the only other one like it in the entire country is in Albuquerque.
“It’s kind of crazy and that’s why we do it here in Albuquerque because we can be different and we can be a leader,” said Lovato.
Back in 2011, AMAFCA built a similar but smaller system in the Hahn Arroyo near Candelaria and San Pedro. When AMAFCA saw how well it was working, they decided to expand the technology to other arroyos in the metro.
“We would like to continue to build water quality structures in a lot of our system, in the city of Albuquerque’s system and Bernalillo County’s system,” said Lovato.
In a few weeks, the project will break ground as will a filter system in the Tijeras Arroyo.
Lovato says while they can’t stop people from dumping in Arroyos, this is a big step forward in keeping the city’s water clean.
“If we clean the water before it gets to the Rio Grande, the Rio Grande is a cleaner river so that benefits the whole community,” said Lovato.
The price tag for this project is about $1.3 million. Lovato says they expect the project to be finished just before the start of monsoon season.