New Mexico river ranked ninth most endangered river in the country
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A year since the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire ravaged more than 340,000 acres in northern New Mexico, Las Vegas faces another threat.
“I am terrified that we will dry out our communities. I’m terrified that the lack of water will create more strain and more conflict within our communities,” said Ralph Vigil with New Mexico the Acequia Commission.
A new report by American Rivers ranked the Rio Gallinas the ninth most endangered river in the country. The report looked at three factors.
“One is the river significance to people and wildlife. The second is the magnitude of the threat to the river into communities, and particularly in light of climate change and environmental justice. And the third, and this is really kind of the key variable is that there’s some type of decision or action in the next 12 months that the public can influence that is going to influence the future of the river,” said Rachel Ellis, spokesperson for the American Rivers.
Aside from the effects of the wildfire, the area has gone through two decades of drought, fire and floods that contaminated the area’s watershed.
Residents are feeling the impact from how they water their crops, to even the water they’re allowed to drink.
“There have already been significant drinking water emergency significant impacts to the acequia’s in the area, which have been flooded with debris, and or become unusable,” said Ellis.
To support the area’s diverse wildlife, and the livelihood of its residents, city officials are hoping to modernize the way the river keeps water to try and conserve the river’s water levels.
“That threat hasn’t gone away. Our watersheds are in disrepair for years and years of mismanagement, and also drought,” Ellis said.
The first-ever “New Mexico Fire and Water Summit” will be held this summer with federal and state agencies to create a long term plan to protect the Rio Gallinas.