Rivers of New Mexico

Albuquerque sewage outfall

Albuquerque sewage outfall

I ended up by happy accident on a morning bike ride yesterday at Albuquerque’s sewage treatment plant outfall, which is the largest Rio Grande tributary between the Rio Chama and the U.S.-Texas-Mexico border. It’s just a short run from the culvert you see to the river, which is immediately behind where I was standing when I took the picture. I’ve always wondered what would happen if, instead of a short rock-lined channel to the river, you let the water meander through the bosque. Whenever I’m in Las Vegas, I try to get out to Las Vegas Wash, where treated wastewater makes for great bird habitat as it makes its run to Lake Mead.


  1. As you well know, unless the water actually reaches the river, it doesn’t count in the eyes of the State Engineer. Turn the outfall into the bosque, and all abstraction count against the city’s permit obligations.

  2. William –

    Yes. My idea is that there would be “losses” – water lost to evapotranspiration – but that if someone (this is the big hole in my argument – who?) can make the Water Utility whole for those losses we could get some neat habitat out of the deal. It could, for example, provide minnow and flycatcher habitat and therefore contribute to mitigation for another agency that has Endangered Species Act liabilities.

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