Earthworks Installation

Flowing and slowing in the right direction

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Nineteen participants and instructors of the Watershed Management Group’s certification course in Water Harvesting worked side by side, rake by rake, to install earthworks under drizzly skies.  Basins and swales improve a barren area at Albuquerque’s Open Space Visitors Center, where the instructional classes were conducted.  The earthworks are near the western edge of the Center next to a storage building.

Jeff Adams, the primary designer, guided us through calculations and work tasks, with steady direction added by Catlow Shipek, Program Senior Manager of the WMG.  Prior to this workday in September 2014 , a cistern was installed to drain into the nearby fallow agricultural field.

Jeff describes:

“Overflow from the cistern, surface runoff from the portions of the gravel road, and direct rainfall are collected and infiltrated in the bio-retention basins, providing passive irrigation to the plantings and increasing localized soil moisture.  A layer of wood chip mulch feeds soil biological activity and reduces evaporative losses. Rock aprons stabilize the inflow to the basin and overflow between basins and can support seed germination.”

Project Description, Mid Rio Grande Low Impact Developments: Projects for Storm Water Management, 2015

Just before the work day with the crew, City staff managed the rough excavation with a backhoe and delivered necessary materials.  The rest was manual labor.  There were many teachable moments as the instructors provided details about the design and tasks.  The final step of planting a few native and drought-tolerant plants was extremely satisfying, and the day that began drizzly turned out to be a team-building bright green day.

The crew:  Casey Holland, Cat Corva, Charles Wohlenberg, Christian Meuli, Joanne McEntire, Kimberly Selving, Meera Olson, Michael Reed, Michael Steiner, Mir Rashid Sohel, Patty Parks-Wasserman, Roslynn Brain, Ryan Weiss, Scott Ishihara, Shawn Wolverton, Sidney Mallard, Jeffrey Adams, and Catlow Shipek.

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