Water in the Desert

Rio Grande, May 19, 2007

Originally uploaded by heinemanfleck.

I’ve been otherwise occupied over the last week, so I haven’t been paying my usual attention to the river. But when I went out yesterday for a bike ride, it was wonderfully high – 3,700 cubic feet per second through Albuquerque, which I think is the highest it’s been this season. This picture was taken from the old Alameda Bridge, which is a great place to walk out and look at the river. The water’s overtopping the island in the middle of the stream there. Another great view spot right now is the Montano Bridge. On the south side pedestrian walkway, they built little observation decks. The one in the middle looks out on one of the islands where they’ve cut little stream paths for minnow habitat. The water’s high enough to fill them right now with the sort of low flow water the little fishies need.

Montano Bridge Island


  1. Is there a rate guage on a bridge somewhere that tells you this 3700 cubic feet/sec number, or is this something you look up afterwards?

    I assume you don’t throw one of your fellow cyclists into the river and measure how long it takes him to float under the bridge, then combining that with depth to get a measure (although wouldn’t that be fun?)

  2. There are gauging stations up and down the river, run by the US Geological Survey, which report in real time. I look ’em up on the web later – they don’t have a goober at the river you can read:


    Though I rather like your idea of throwing a cyclist into the river and doing a calculation. Rather like Enrico Fermi’s calculation of the yield of the Trinity Test by dropping six little pieces of paper as the blast wave passed and seeing how far they went.

  3. I’ll be up in the Rio headwaters in about 3 weeks. I’ll report on flows, flower abundance, ecosystem health, and the taste of my homemade freeze-dried to lend context to this flow rate issue. My road bike won’t be up there, however.



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