Plan in the works to solve high line canal flooding problems

New Mexico News

People in Belen are still cleaning up from last week’s flooding, which caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

Now, residents want to know what’s being done to prevent another break of the high line canal in Belen.

“It just kept coming and coming and coming,” said Monica Kerr of Belen.

Residents are ready for a permanent solution to the high line canal continually flooding.

“None of this would have happened if they would have fixed that levy the correct way,” Kerr said.

Breaking for the third time in just eight months, last Thursday’s storm was the final straw for many–and the clean up has been extensive. 

“This is the worst one,” said John Gurule of Belen.

Many neighbors are blaming the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. However, the MRGCD says the blame should be put on mother nature.

“That’s mother nature creating a problem as much for us as anybody else,” said MRGCD CEO Mike Hamman.

Costing $250,000 to repair the canal each time it floods, the conservancy district is studying the best solution to this problem.

“The biggest thing we can be helpful with is appropriating dollars towards a project,” said Valencia County State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado. “The problem with the high line canal right now is that there isn’t a project to put money towards.”

The district started working on a permanent solution last September after a pecan farm was flooded. 

“If we build a bunch of these smaller storm water retention facilities throughout the area, I think it would alleviate a lot of the problems,” Hamman said.

For now, however, there are no immediate solutions for residents.

“I hate to say it, but it’s kind of the luck of the draw in terms of where the storms hit,” Hamman said.

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District has spent $60,000 to study the high line flooding problem. They hope to have a more detailed plan by the end of the month.

The bigger question is how to pay for it.

The conservancy district will ask for the state and federal government to help, but the next legislative session doesn’t begin until January.

They have not put a price tag on a fix, but say it will cost several million dollars.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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