Fifteen neighbors and designers walked along Calle del Pajarito in early September, just before historic rainstorms poured down from the sky. The neighbors gathered with Querencia Green to kick-off a rainwater harvesting and green infrastructure demonstration project.
Stormwater from large rain events collects in pools on the street, in driveways and in yards, often turning into habitat for insect larvae and tadpoles. Joe Craig, a neighborhood leader who hosted the workshop with his wife Pamela, described the street as “a channel for stormwater to collect in pools—if it rains a quarter inch or more. During this monsoon, we’ve really had the chance to walk in the rain and think like water.”
Like much of the North Valley, the neighborhood is at or below the elevation of the Rio Grande. The valley’s network of streets and irrigation ditches, many of them historic acequias, collect rainwater that evaporates or slowly infiltrates into the ground.
During the workshop, we walked, made maps and ate lunch while considering this question: where are the stormwater problems that offer opportunities for rainwater harvesting and green infrastructure? Green infrastructure promotes the controlled movement and use of water, while creating beneficial outcomes.
There are many issues to tackle, and the team worked on narrowing it down to a couple priorities: suggest strategies to correct the flooding problem on the uphill corner of the street, and a method to capture and use water that collects in driveways and yards. The neighbors would like to see several benefits, including a safe, definable entrance to the street, where school children wait for their bus.
Querencia Green is guiding the workshop, design and action plan processes. Kurt Capalbo, the team’s Project Assistant and a graduate student in the UNM Landscape Architecture Program, is now working on site designs. The demonstration process is also supported by the Village of Los Ranchos and Richard Zita, a Landscape Architect.