The Urban Waters Middle Rio Grande conservation initiative launched Dec. 11 with the objective of revitalizing the Rio Grande urban waterway near Albuquerque—one of the 11 locations announced in May as part of the Urban Waters Partnership. The initiative is a new federal-state partnership to improve water quality and address environmental justice in New Mexico. Partners on the project include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Bernalillo County.

The project will include the development of the Southwest’s first urban National Wildlife Refuge, a restoration of 370 ha (916 ac) of native riparian cottonwood forest, and a pilot program for stormwater permits. The Middle Rio Grande Valley was selected as one of three pilot watershed-based permit projects nationwide due to its semi-arid nature and because of existing water quality impairment.

Further, in May, EPA awarded the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District with a $60,000-grant. The grant will be used to further environmental education in Albuquerque schools and improve community outreach about stormwater management and green infrastructure, which can be used to enhance groundwater infiltration and storage. Read more.