By Elizabeth LockyearMarch 14, 2013
ACOMA PUEBLO, N.M., -- The District and Acoma Pueblo entered into a Watershed Cost Share Agreement March 6, 2013, under the Section 203 Tribal Partnership Program.
"It is the District's second watershed study under the Section 203 Tribal Partnership Program and also only the second such study in the nation. The first was with the Pueblo of Santa Clara. It's evidence of the District's continued success in our outreach to Native American communities in our area," said Ron Kneebone, District tribal liaison and outreach coordinator.
Section 203 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 authorized up to $1 million a year through 2012, per tribe, for water-related planning activities to identify and prioritize water resources related projects that will substantially benefit Indian tribes, and are located primarily within Indian country or in proximity to Alaska Native villages. These studies address flood damage reduction, environmental restoration and protection, and preservation of cultural and natural resources. The funding authorized for years after 2012 is included in the ongoing budget negotiations in Washington.
The agreement establishes a partnership between the Corps and Acoma Pueblo to conduct a study of the Rio San Jose watershed to identify challenges within the watershed, prioritize them and lay out a number of varied solutions. The study budget is $937,000 over three years and the agreement stipulates a 25 percent cost share on the part of the tribe, but the cost share can be met with in-kind work or equipment contribution.
"This study is of great importance to the tribe due to increased population and resource demands in the Rio San Jose watershed, and concerns over the effects of land uses in the upper watershed outside tribal boundaries," said Corinne O'Hara, project manager with the District.
The watershed is located in Cibola and McKinley counties, in west-central New Mexico. Challenges to be examined include water and sediment quality; aquatic and riparian ecosystem degradation; and the potability and availability of irrigation using Rio San Jose surface water.
The final product of the study is a Watershed Management Plan that the Pueblo may use to implement projects to address watershed problems.
The Acoma Pueblo is located approximately 60 miles west of Albuquerque, N.M. The village of Sky City (Old Acoma) sits atop a mesa, over 360 feet above the ground. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. Acoma tribal traditions estimate that they have lived in the village for more than two thousand years while archaeologists conclude that it has been continuously occupied from at least A.D 1200.