City and schools to work together to curb flooding

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The city of Belen and Belen Consolidated Schools are joining forces to address flooding issues in the Hub City while saving money.

The proposed memorandum of agreement between the two entities explains the joint project, which allows the city to expand a pond on the southeast corner of the Belen High School campus.

The pond, a part of a larger drainage system, captures storm water run off released from the West Mesa and is used as a discharge point for water collected from heavy downpours.

"It makes sense to work with the school board," said Mario Juarez-Infante, associate vice president for Wilson & Company, Inc., Engineers & Architects. "They have an existing pond that's called a spillway structure that controls how much water can spill over into the (Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District) and it gains us access to be able to release the water."

By connecting to the school's existing pond, Juarez-Infante said the city can take advantage of this discharge point, which they don't have access to now, while maintaining the spillway capacity.

Benefits of the project include controlling run off safely, employing an existing spillway at the high school pond and protecting the Highline Canal, Juarez-Infante said.

This project is another step outlined in Belen's Drainage Master Plan.

"This will set the stage for future projects that make sense for the city's situation as well as the school's," Juarez-Infante said.

In the MOA, the city is financially responsible for planning, engineering design, construction and management costs over two phases.

Plans and other expansion specifications must be reviewed by the school board and approved by the city before construction can begin.

Once construction is completed, the existing ponds will belong to the district and be maintained by the city, the MOA states.

The agreement will terminate one year after completion of the expansion.

This joint junction could save the city "millions of dollars," said Councilor Wayne Gallegos.

"It's going to benefit the same citizens of Belen, the same areas of Belen … Why double tax everyone and spend the money twice when we're using the same engineering firm that they're using?" Gallegos said.

State funding agencies are looking to give grants and other funding to communities who work jointly together to solve community problems, Gallegos added.

Belen Mayor Rudy Jaramillo said this regional solution works out perfectly for the city.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.