Aztec meeting focuses on flood damage

Hannah Grover
Jim DeAngelo, left, a mitigation project leader with AECOM, and Sherrick Campbell, a water resource engineer, walk along the Blanco Arroyo near East Blanco Street in Aztec on Feb. 24.

AZTEC – Representatives from an engineering firm hired to perform drainage studies here met with local residents Tuesday to discuss the Blanco Arroyo.

The public meeting was the first of three meetings AECOM representatives will have with members of the public over the next few months. It served as an opportunity to update residents on the status of the study and to listen to public comments about three major flooding events that have occurred in the last five years.

The engineers are soliciting public input through April 1, including pictures and rain gauge data. This information can be submitted to City Engineer William Watson at

Jim DeAngelo, a hazard mitigation principal at AECOM, said the meeting was the first step in the completion of the study.

"There are a lot of steps ahead of us," he said.

DeAngelo told residents that AECOM has three goals — understanding existing drainage conditions, learning from past events to prepare for the future and coming up with mitigation solutions. He warned residents that AECOM's work will not necessarily lead to immediate solutions.

"You're not going to see folks out there moving concrete right away," he said.

The city will have to find the funding for mitigation projects, he said.

Dale Anderson, a member of the Aztec Museum board, said the 2015 floods were much different than the previous floods.

"The water flowed faster and deeper, and didn't deposit as much material as the first two floods," he said.

However, it still wiped out all of the museum's landscaping, and the board has no way of preventing future floods from doing the same, he said.

"If we change that and put sandbags up along the fence, then we wipe out the hardware store," Anderson said.

The impact that changing the flow of the water could have on neighboring properties was one of the topics addressed during the meeting. DeAngelo and Watson urged residents who are planning to landscape their yards and who want to limit the damage caused by flooding to hire professional landscapers.

DeAngelo said the firm is not yet able to provide feasible solutions for flooding, although he said a large dam will not be an option.

"When we're talking about feasibility, we're looking at not just can it be built," he said. "We're looking at can it be built with the amount of money that's available."

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.