BELEN—After the destructive flood last summer in Belen, city officials are joining other government agencies in seeking money for a plan to mitigate future events.
On July 5, 2018, a torrential rain fell in Valencia County, and flood waters ran down from the west mesa, breaching the Highline Canal in the Hub City, causing major flooding, affecting about 1,000 homes and several businesses on Main Street.
By a 3-0 vote, the Belen City Council approved a resolution in support of the design and construction of flood mitigation projects in the city of Belen. Councilor Ronnie Torres was not present at the meeting held last week.
The resolution also states the city is partnering with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and Valencia County to develop and implement a long-term solution to mitigate against the hazards caused by flash floods in the city.
The three entities are seeking legislative financial support of $150,000, which the resolution states is a necessary and critical component to develop and implement such a solution. Part of the plan would be to design retention ponds to help with the flooding issues in the city and county.
During last week’s meeting, Councilor Wayne Gallegos said he was “all for” the resolution and working with other agencies in obtaining legislative appropriations for the plan.
“The project consists of working together with the (MRGCD), ourselves and the county on the major problems we’ve had in this corridor and down south, namely Pueblitos,” Gallegos said. “We’re looking at a regional approach. They’re supporting us and we’re supporting them.”
Gallegos said while the city is asking for a legislative appropriation for the city for ponding, they’re also looking at flood control planning for the area.
Councilor Frank Ortega said the three governmental agencies are hoping to construct diversionary channels as a first phase.
“We know the irrigation ditches are not used for drainage, and they’re actually a problem when it comes to flooding,” Ortega said. “We’re applying for funding to help with flooding from Mile Marker 195 through the bosque and the river. We’ve got to start somewhere.”
Belen City Manager Leona Vigil said the city is also asking legislators for $1.7 million to construct two ponds to help with flooding issues.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.