Rio Grande Watershed Health

A watershed is an area of land drained by a river, river system, or body of water and bounded by mountains or ridges of high land. Other terms to describe a watershed are basin or catchment, basically any topographic area where water drains. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states “We all live in a watershed—the area that drains to a common waterway such as a stream, lake, estuary, wetland or even the ocean—and our individual actions can directly affect it.” The EPA and its partners are working together on a watershed basis to protect the nation’s water resources. For more information about watersheds including the Watershed Academy, Surf Your Watershed, Adopt Your Watershed, Targeted Watersheds, etc., utilize the following link to EPA’s Watershed site -

The Albuquerque reach of the Rio Grande has been declared impaired by the NM Environment Department because the water quality does not support designated uses for the river.  Pollutants of concern for the Rio Grande include E. coli bacteria, oxygen depleting substances, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and gross alpha radiation sources.  A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) document for E. coli was prepared in 2010 by the NM Environment Department, identifying needed reductions in bacterial discharges and encouraging watershed health improvement measures to achieve those reductions.  Similarly, Tijeras Creek, which drains the east mountain area within Ciudad SWCD and discharges to the Rio Grande, has also been declared impaired because of excessive nitrogen and phosphorus ("nutrient") loading.  Finally, Las Huertas Creek, a Rio Grande tributary in the eastern part of Ciudad SWCD, has been declared impaired because of excessive nutrient loading.  Click here to see our Frequently Asked Questions document about the Rio Grande-Albuquerque watershed.

Ciudad SWCD strives to protect and improve watershed health and resultant water quality within its District boundaries, as illustrated by the following activities: