Residents living near Paseo del Norte and Eubank can expect to see tons of dirt being moved over the next year as the approximately $5.8 million North Domingo Baca Dam expansion project advances.
Compass Engineering & Construction Services is the prime contractor on the project, with funding provided by Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control. Nolan Bennett, AMAFCA field engineer and dam project manager, said work began last month and is expected to continue until October of next year.
“Right now, the main part of the job is removing dirt to provide additional capacity within the dam,” Bennett said. “Over the last 40 years there’s been a lot of development and we needed to add some additional capacity based on the amount of water that is brought to the dam.”
Greater storage capacity, flattened median for work trucks
According to a description of the project on an AMAFCA Project Schedule 2022 document, “The expansion of North Domingo Baca Dam is needed due to additional diversions into the watershed. The dam modifications will include the excavation and expansion of the existing dam pool.”
“Right now, we’re removing some of the material within the dam pool area,” Bennett said, adding that later in the project there will be reconstruction on the La Cueva diversion, the concrete channel that comes from the east.
In addition to needing greater capacity for new development, the AMAFCA project description says, “Recently completed studies on extreme precipitation have changed the values for the probable maximum precipitation and may allow utilization of the exiting auxiliary spillway.”
Residents can expect to see a lot of big trucks turning on to Eubank as they move dirt and other material from the site. “There used to be a median from the exit of the dam that didn’t allow you to turn south on Eubank,” Bennett said. “We worked with Bernalillo County and basically flattened that median so trucks can go south so they don’t have to go through the neighborhood.”
On Sunday, Nov. 20 yellow plastic dividers could be seen where the median used to prevent vehicles from turning south from the dam site. Bennett said there will be a lot of trucks leaving the area as construction continues on the project and for residents to be aware of the activity.
Some history of North Domingo Baca Dam
A tattered but readable sign along the path atop the dam says the Domingo Baca Watershed drains 11.3 square miles and that there are three dams within the watershed – North Domingo Baca Dam, South Domingo Baca Dam and Kinney Dam.
South Domingo Baca Dam was built in 1979, North Domingo Baca Dam in 1982 and the Kinney Dam was constructed in 1995. The three dams help to protect properties downstream and are maintained by AMAFCA. Without the dams, property development could not occur in what would otherwise be designated flood plains.
According to the sign at NDB Dam, “Each dam has been retrofitted with a ported outlet structure that retains trash and debris while improving the overall water quality.” Storm water from the watershed enters the North Diversion Channel between Paseo Del Norte and Alameda Blvd. before emptying into the Rio Grande.
Dam remains active construction site even though walking paths are still open
On Sunday dog walkers, hikers and mini motorized bike riders could be seen utilizing the paths winding around North Domingo Baca Dam. Bennett emphasized that AMAFCA maintains the property for flood control and not recreation.
“People are allowed to utilize the paths, however; it is an active construction zone,” Bennett said. “There will be thousands of yards of dirt being moved and trucks working within and leaving the area.”
Although quiet on Sunday, activity at the site will likely increase over the next year and residents in the area are urged to take precaution while in and around the dam. Huge piles of boulders could be seen on the south side of the dam and large mounds of dirt on the west side of Eubank, adjacent to the Altamont Little League baseball fields.
For more information on the project, contact project manager Nolan Bennett at 505-878-8943 or Adrienne Martinez at 505-878-0037.