ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District joined Bernalillo County, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) and others to celebrate the completion of the Southwest Valley Flood Damage Reduction Project, at a ribbon cutting ceremony, Sept. 20, 2016.

"The Albuquerque District is proud to be part of the efforts leading up to today's events. This project has been in our portfolio for many years, and it is always gratifying when we complete a project of such significance," said District Commander Lt. Col. James Booth at the ceremony. "The Corps' team has done a great job partnering with everyone to get it finished."

The project began in 1999 when AMAFCA and Bernalillo County entered into an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for a feasibility study to establish a federal interest in flooding in the southwest valley of Bernalillo County.

In 2004, the final feasibility report and environmental assessment were completed. The recommendation would use the agricultural drains constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and maintained by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD). This was the first special use permit to allow storm water discharges into a BOR facility in the United States. Construction on the project was authorized in November 2007. Phase I, which included a new outfall into the Rio Grande at the Duran Open Space, was completed in 2012. Phase I also allowed the Isleta and Los Padillas drains to be used to reduce flooding in the south valley by allowing storm flows to be diverted into the drains.

The recently completed Phase II consists of detention ponds, known as Pond 187 and Pond 187A, and underground infrastructure consisting of drainage pipes and connections that remove peak flows that would overwhelm the Isleta Drain and store them in Pond 187 and then slowly return the flood water to the Isleta Drain and eventually move flood waters to the Rio Grande. Future Bernalillo County and AMAFCA projects in the area will eventually connect to the Southwest Valley Flood Reduction Project and remove more structures from the flood plain.

Phase II required the design and construction of inlet and outfall pipes for Pond 187 and Pond 187A as well as the completion of the diversion at the Isleta Drain through the Rio Grande High School campus. Outfall pipes were installed in La Fonda Road SW and connected to the Isleta Drain. The inlet pipes run through Pond 187A and cross Don Andres Road. The Corps, Bernalillo County, AMAFCA and Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) coordinated the design of Pond 187A to allow a new soccer field to be built. This work also needed to be coordinated with the construction of APS's new Ninth Grade Academy at Rio Grande High School, and the re-construction of Arenal Road by Bernalillo County, to minimize disruption to the community and avoid costly change orders.

"It has truly been a partnership. Pond 187 and the Southwest Valley Flood Damage Reduction Project are a perfect example of how partners come together for the benefit of the local community," said Lt. Col. Booth.

The project received recognition from the Mid-Region Council of Governments, Sept. 9, 2016, when it received the Public Partnership Award during the Board of Directors' Annual Regional Excellence Awards dinner. Project managers from each partnering agency were Jerry Nieto, USACE; Brad Bingham, AMAFCA; Brad Catanach, Bernalillo County; Robert Kane, APS; and Ray Gomez, MRGCD.

While officially known as Pond 187, during the ribbon cutting ceremony, several speakers began referring to it as "Raven pond" in honor of neighboring Rio Grande High School's mascot.