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Who We Are and What We Do
The Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) was created in 1963 by the New Mexico Legislature with specific responsibility for flooding problems in greater Albuquerque.
AMAFCA’s purpose is to prevent injury or loss of life, and to eliminate or minimize property damage. AMAFCA does this by building and maintaining flood control structures throughout the Albuquerque area.
Board of Directors
AMAFCA is a political subdivision of the State of New Mexico, and is governed by a publicly-elected five-member Board of Directors. Directors are elected by districts during the general election, and they serve six-year staggered terms. The Board elects a Chairman from among the Directors.
Flood Control Structures
Traditional flood control measures focus on protection of existing development through construction of dams (to hold water back) and channels (to divert or confine flows). Check out the Maintenance Map to see which structures AMAFCA is responsible for, and which ones are maintained by another agency.
North and South Diversion Channels
The first mission of AMAFCA was to be the local sponsor for construction of two very large federally-funded projects, the North and South Diversion Channels, which were built by the Army Corps of Engineers. The North Diversion Channel drains Northeast Albuquerque and can carry 44,000 cubic feet of water per second at its outlet. The smaller South Diversion Channel protects the Southeast Valley by intercepting flows from Southeast Albuquerque and the Tijeras Arroyo. AMAFCA today is still responsible for these two main flood control structures.
General Obligation Flood Control Bonds
A bond represents a sum of money borrowed by Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) to finance capital improvement projects.
General Obligation bonds require approval by the voters and are repaid from a portion of the property taxes. The current tax (mil levy) for AMAFCA general bond obligation is 67.5 cents per thousand on debt service for AMAFCA. An owner of property assessed at $100,000 would pay $22.50 in debt service on these bonds. Because old bonds are being retired as the new bonds are requested, passage of the bonds does not result in a property tax increase. AMAFCA holds a “natural double-Aaa” rating, the highest possible. This Aaa rating saves taxpayers money by keeping bond interest rates as low as possible. With less spent on interest, more money is available for project development and construction – money that goes directly into the Albuquerque economy.
The AMAFCA Project Schedule identifies possible projects that could be constructed using the Bond proceeds. The current Project Schedule can be found here. The Project Schedule utilized various criteria to establish general project priorities from a technical perspective, which may not necessarily reflect the priorities used by the Board of Directors for funding and construction of individual projects. Specific projects will be funded and scheduled by AMAFCA Board action based on evaluation of public safety needs, cost-sharing benefits, orderly development of flood control infrastructure, overall community needs, and regional planning requirements.
A message from the Chairman of the AMAFCA Board of Directors regarding the 2014 General Obligation Flood Control Bonds can be found here.
The North and South Diversion Channels are examples of traditional channels. The North Diversion Channel is a concrete-lined arroyo, and the South Diversion Channel is mostly made of dirt. Both arroyos move floodwater to the river. The City of Albuquerque website has more information about Albuquerque’s arroyos and the dangers of flash flooding.
The Calabacillas Arroyo is one example of a non-traditional channel built by AMAFCA. Soil-cement, made from a combination of local soil and cement, mimics the look of a natural arroyo while providing greater erosion protection than that of a plain dirt arroyo. The Calabacillas Arroyo also incorporates artwork elements into the design of the arroyo walls, in the section between Coors Boulevard and the Rio Grande.
Dams and Levees
A typical AMAFCA dam contains a principal spillway, which is a pipe under the dam, and an emergency spillway, which is the large channel around the side or over the top of the dam that acts as a safety valve. Dams and other types of detention basins collect floodwater, and release it slowly to prevent downstream damage. AMAFCA dams are capable of fully detaining the one percent (100-year) storm. A storm greater than that, however, could flow through the emergency spillway, and cause some downstream flooding. A levee is like a dam but confines water along a waterway such as a river.
AMAFCA is also concerned with protecting the quality of water for Albuquerque and its surrounding areas. Structures which catch debris and protect the Rio Grande from pollution are often modeled in the UNM Hydraulics Lab before they are built by AMAFCA. This web pages (Projects) provides more details on recent AMAFCA models.
Download AMAFCA’s Drainage Policy. (pdf)
Download AMAFCA’s Fiscal Year 2014 Audit from the New Mexico State Auditor's website. (pdf)
Historical Documents About AMAFCA
In 1974, the AMAFCA Board put together a brochure about AMAFCA. The purpose was stated as follows: "As more and more citizens of the community are coming into contact with the activities of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, the Board of Directors has sensed a need to prepare a report to the public which would explain why the Authority was created, the things that have been accomplished with taxpayer dollars, its present activities and its objectives for the future. In addition to the text, it is hoped that the accompanying photographs will serve as reminders of past failures to provide adequate flood protection and the need for continuing vigilance on the part of all public and private interests to prevent repetition of past mistakes." You can view a scanned copy of this historical brochure here. It is a pdf, slightly over 2 MB in size.
In 1991, AMAFCA created an updated brochure, this time in color. The introduction states: "Floods in the Desert. Albuquerque experiences dangerous flooding conditions somewhere in the city about a dozen times per year. Albuquerque floods can be particularly hazardous because the origin of the flood may not be obvious at the floodsite itself. Distant thunderstorms in the Sandia Mountains, as well as storms in just one part of the city, can result in an unexpected wall of water which roars through arroyos and channels. Many people are unaware of the hazards; consequently, nearly every year Albuquerqueans experience personal injuries and property damage from floods. Helping people prevent these injuries and damages is the mission of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA)." You can view a scanned copy of the brochure here. It is a pdf, slightly over 1 MB in size.
In 1992, M. A. Peterson wrote A Summary History of AMAFCA. While much has happened since then, it provides a good look back at AMAFCA's early years.
Awards - Recognition for AMAFCA Projects
AMAFCA Projects (and the Board of Directors) have been submitted for, and frequently win, regional and national awards. A few of the more recent awards are listed below.
- 2013 Public Partnership Award, from the Mid-Region Council of Governments, for the Bosque Trail Improvements.
- 2013 Engineering Week Awards, Project of the Year - Small Project, from the New Mexico Society of Professional Engineers, for the Hahn Arroyo Rehabilitation Phase I.
- 2013 Engineering Week Awards, Engineer of the Year - Public Sector, from the New Mexico Society of Professional Engineers, to AMAFCA Director/UNM Professor Bruce M. Thomson.
- 2012 NAIOP Awards of Excellence, Award of Merit, Civic-Public Renovation-Remodel Category, from the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association, New Mexico Chapter, for the Hahn Arroyo Rehabilitation Phase I.
- 2012 Public Partnership Award, from the Mid-Region Council of Governments, for the APS Community Athletic Facility.
- 2011 Excellence in Concrete, from the American Concrete Institute, New Mexico Chapter, for the South Diversion Channel/I-25 Baffle Chute Storm Water Quality Facility.
- 2011 Public Partnership Award, from the Mid-Region Council of Governments, for the East Amole Surge Pond.
- At the 2011 ESRI International Users Conference in San Diego, California July 11-15, 2011, AMAFCA received an award for Special Achievements in GIS from ESRI. AMAFCA's Interactive Facilities Map was selected from more than 100,000 other nominations from over 300,000 organizations worldwide for the award. The map has received national and international accolades, and has changed the way AMAFCA does business and interacts with the public. (Details) (Photo)
- Engineering Execellence Award 2011, Water and Storm Water Category, from the American Council of Engineering Companies, for the East Branch Channel & Regional Water Quality Facility at Black Arroyo Dam. The project provides water quality treatment for a 2000 acre watershed located in the southern portion of the City of Rio Rancho, discharging to the Black Arroyo, and ultimately to the Rio Grande. It incorporates landscaping, multi-use trails, and a sinuous design, utilizing tinted shotcrete for a more natural look. AMAFCA is a co-owner on this project.
- Engineering Excellence Award 2010, Water Resources Category Winner, from the American Council of Engineering Companies, for the Southwest Valley Storm Drain Improvements at Rio Grande High School. The project included a flood control system and drainage pond that provided significant storage for large storm events to protect the Rio Grande High School campus and nearby homes and streets. This project constructed a portion of the Southwest Valley Flood Reduction Project that is a cooperative effort between Bernalillo County, AMAFCA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Making a Difference Award from the National Partnership for Highway Quality, for the I-40/98th Street to West Central Interchange Project. AMAFCA’s 98th Street Surge Pond Dam is an integral part of this project. (Press Release)
- Regional Leadership Award for 2008, AMAFCA Board of Directors (award given to all current and former Directors), Mid-Region Council of Governments.
- Engineering Excellence Award 2007, Water Resources Category Winner, from the American Council of Engineering Companies, for the West I-40 Diversion Channel Phase III. (Photo)
- First Place 2006 from American Public Works Association, New Mexico Chapter for the West I-40 Diversion Channel Phase III. (Photo)
- Best of 2006 Award from Southwest Contractor/McGraw-Hill Construction, for the Engineering Design of the West I-40 Diversion Channel Phase III. (Photo)
- Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies, for the Isleta Boulevard, Phase 1A-Sanchez Farm Project, 2006.
- Regional Excellence Public Partnership Award 2005, to AMAFCA and Bernalillo County from the Mid-Region Council of Governments, for commitment to innovative inter-jurisdictional cooperation in the design and construction of the Sanchez Farm Project.
- Special Water Resources Award for Engineering Excellence 2004, for the North Pino Storm Water Quality Enhancement Project, from the American Council of Engineering Companies / New Mexico.
- Award of Merit for Contributing to the Urban Quality of Albuquerque from The Albuquerque Conservation Association (TACA), November 2002.
- Project of the Year from American Public Works Association, New Mexico Chapter for Calabacillas Arroyo Stabilization & San Antonio Arroyo Projects, 1998.
AMAFCA owns and maintains 69 miles of channels, both improved and natural, nine miles of underground facilities, and seven miles of dikes and diversion structures. AMAFCA also owns and maintains 35 flood control dams throughout the greater Albuquerque area, and a number of storm water quality facilities. AMAFCA controls more than 4,000 acres within its boundaries, much of which is made available for joint use such as bike trails, recreational fields, equestrian areas, hang glide landing areas, open space, wildlife habitat, and golf courses.
Drainage facilities in the Albuquerque area are owned and maintained by a number of agencies, including AMAFCA, the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, and others. AMAFCA's Interactive Facilities Map is color-coded to show which agency is responsible for each facility. Blue=AMAFCA, Red=City of Albuquerque, Purple=Bernalillo County, Brown=NMDOT, and Gold=MRGCD. See the Maintenance Map tab of this page for further information.
AMAFCA is located at 2600 Prospect Avenue NE, Albuquerque, NM 87107. The phone number is 505-884-2215, and the fax number is 505-884-0214.
For driving directions and a map of our location, see the Maps page.