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An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Udall introduces bill to prevent stormwater pollution, create jobs

—Jennifer Talhelm 

On November 14, U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that he had introduced a bill to reduce the leading cause of water pollution nationwide, while creating jobs, and supporting infrastructure and neighborhood redevelopment.

Polluted stormwater runoff is caused when rain or snow flows over roads, roofs, parking lots, and other surfaces, picking up toxic chemicals and sediment and carrying them to rivers and streams. The Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act of 2013 would encourage the use of innovative and economic approaches to manage and reduce such pollution and restore natural surfaces, such as permeable pavement, natural drainage features, and green roofs. These newer approaches can be more cost-effective than traditional stormwater infrastructure projects, which use large amounts of concrete and steel infrastructure to collect runoff and rapidly move it downstream. The investments would also create jobs and stimulate the economy.

In New Mexico, improvements to reduce stormwater runoff could better protect communities during major storms—such as the downpours that happened this summer, which caused serious damage to roads, bridges, and levees. During the storms, areas that had made improvements to reduce flooding, including the recent bosque redevelopment projects, were spared significant damage.

“New Mexicans know how precious clean water is, and they know our country is near a crisis point when it comes to how we manage our water,” Udall said. “During this summer’s floods across New Mexico, recent bosque restoration projects helped manage Rio Grande flows and protected our communities. Our bill provides a cost-effective alternative to reduce the leading cause of water pollution and help communities across the country relieve pressure on aging infrastructure, reduce flooding and create more green spaces, which provide natural filters for pollution. Best of all, it would help create jobs and stimulate the economy at the same time.”

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill has four primary objectives. It would:

  • Promote innovative stormwater infrastructure to states, local governments, and the private sector.
  • Make investments so that communities could implement their own stormwater projects
  • Create up to five Centers of Excellence throughout the United States to conduct research, develop recommendations, and provide training and technical assistance for implementing management practices for stormwater control and management, tailored specifically to each region
  • Promote public-private partnerships to create jobs in the design and construction of innovative stormwater control infrastructure

The bill is supported by the following organizations: American Forests, American Planning Association, American Rivers, American Society of Landscape Architects, Green For All, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Recreation and Park Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Water Environment Federation.

Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association (ES-CA) watchdog for pipelines, mining, and other community concerns

—Chris Daul

The Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association (ES-CA) held a general meeting on November 2, 2013, at the Placitas Community Center. The first issue noted was that our property tax bills had been reduced, due to a reduction in the ESCAFCA tax levy. Thanks go to all of the volunteers and members of ES-CA who worked hard to have Placitas removed from the ESCAFCA region. This matter exemplifies exactly what ES-CA does—work to keep Placitans informed and to advocate for their best interests.

The major topic of discussion was the reactivation and increase in volume use of the pipelines that run through Placitas. To date, the Federal Government and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have refused to adequately address the risks and safety issues that they are required to address. ES-CA has been working with Las Placitas Association (LPA) to force the Government to conduct the necessary studies. These pipelines run close to the school, the community center, and a number of residences. The oldest pipe was laid in 1956. Leaks could result in groundwater contamination and even explosions and fire. ES-CA is looking for volunteers to join a task force that will work with the community to press our concerns and have the Federal Government do what is necessary to examine the risks associated with the pipelines.

One ongoing issue is the BLM Resource Management Plan (RMP), which will govern the use of the tracts of land that BLM owns in and around Placitas. One of the options that BLM is considering is opening this land to mining. These areas include the Buffalo Tract which borders Placitas to the north, part of which BLM has identified for possible gravel mining; a 195-acre tract that is surrounded by development; and the Crest of Montezuma. ES-CA has already submitted comments to the BLM and is working with our Federal officials to remove the mining recommendations. Dealing with the Federal Government is not an easy task.

Another ongoing issue is the LaFarge mining operations. At the insistence of ES-CA, homeowner associations and others, Sandoval County has issued documents demanding that LaFarge abide by the 1988 Noncompliance Agreement. Yet, LaFarge has continued to violate that agreement and has expanded its operations in ways that are not allowed. ES-CA will be meeting again with county officials to demand that the county duly exercise its authority and take whatever action is necessary to enforce its prior zoning agreement with LaFarge. It was ES-CA’s vigilance that drove the county to enforce its regulations against the Fisher Sand and Gravel operations, and stop an illegal asphalt plant from beginning operations. ES-CA is using that same vigilance in the LaFarge matter to ensure that illegal operations do not take place.

ES-CA is continuing to expand its Watchdog program, which involves volunteers attending local meetings to report on what actions different entities may be taking that have an impact upon Placitas. Volunteers attend meetings of the Sandoval County Commission, the County Planning and Zoning Committee, the Bernalillo Town Council, the Bernalillo Planning and Zoning Commission, and other meetings.

If anyone is interested in helping out, becoming a watchdog or part of the task force, or to join ES-CA, contact

Placitas Recycling Center

Open: Saturdays, 8–11 a.m.
The Center accepts: corrugated cardboard, brown paper bags,
newspaper, mixed paper, polystyrene peanuts (double bagged),
white office paper, aluminum, no. 1 & 2 plastic

Sign-up at the Center to volunteer
or call Max at 877-7745 or Chris at 867-4494
or email:

The Placitas Recycling Center is located on the north side
of Highway 165, one-half mile east of I-25.

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