Is this environmental racism by the ABQ Mayor & Council?
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and City Council applaud themselves for fighting “environmental racism” by stopping business development in the Albuquerque South Valley. While they look away from the pollution their policies have created, the pollution flows to South Valley residents via the Rio Grande.
July 2023 Downtown Albuquerque, photograph provided a subscriber.
Homeless people are urinating and defecating on our sidewalks and city streets, just as this person is doing. Our firm was renovating a restaurant in downtown Albuquerque. As I was walking to the building, I witnessed a homeless person urinating on the sidewalk while APD just looked away. This is not just about decency. It is about our public health.
The City of Albuquerque’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention states,” When it rains,…pollutants get washed from … streets into storm drains and then directly into the Rio Grande untreated!” Please note that the homeless person in the photographs is just feet from a storm drain. It further states, “Pet waste left on the ground gets carried away by storm water contributing harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses to our river. Please clean up after your pet.”
What impact does the Mayor and City Council’s Homeless have on the water quality of the Middle Rio Grande? To answer that question, we requested documentation from the NMED Surface Water Quality Bureau and Albuquerque Metropolitan Flood Control Authority to assess the water quality of the Middle Rio Grande over the past ten to twenty years. Specifically, we requested Escherichia coli counts of the Rio Grande River north and south of Albuquerque. E coli is a bacteria found in the intestines of people and animals and is used to assess water quality.
I assumed that as a graduate civil engineer emphasizing water resources, I would be able to find the information within the haystack and then decern the info. I wasn’t successful in finding the news, but I was able to ask the right questions. The answer was that the Rio Grande’s water quality has deteriorated with increased homelessness. But further study is needed to determine the exact extent, and no public official wants to know.
What I also discovered was quite remarkable. The EPA Standard for E. coli for surface freshwater ways is 100 cfu/100 mL. However, in the Middle Rio Grande, that standard is 410 CFU/100mL; However, in Isleta Pueblo, that standard is 88 CFU/100mL. What is recorded for E. coli for the Middle Rio Grande varies between 25 (little water) and over 600 (high flow). Why are the Mayor and Council okay with a contaminated Rio Grande?
What can be done now?
On our most recent KKOB radio program, my good buddy Josh stated that his friends rafted on the Middle Rio Grande, and all had horrible skin rashes the following day. I would not swim or fish in the Middle Rio Grande.
The city of Albuquerque has looked to pet owners to help solve the E. coli problem. It is time we hold the homeless accountable. It is time the police did not turn a blind eye to the homeless.
A downtown property owner told me that the city at one time was going to provide toilet facilities for the homeless, but it did not happen. The Mayor and City Council should immediately offer restroom facilities for the homeless.
The Mayor and City Council should develop a program to clean and sanitize our city streets and sidewalks to keep the human waste out of the Rio Grande and from being tracked into our homes on the bottom of our shoes.
What can be done for the long term?
We must upgrade our wastewater treatment facilities on the Rio Grande to ensure the water leaving our cities is as clean as the water entering our cities. New Mexico has the funds available,
We need new drinking water sources for the cities on the Rio Grande so they do not suck the Rio Grande dry and ensure adequate water flows to improve the water quality.
Is this environmental racism by the ABQ Mayor & Council?
The answer is yes; if you read the article “South Valley Celebrates Revocation of Asphalt Plant’s Permit” in the February 14, 2023 edition of The Paper (co-owned by Albuquerque Council member Pat Davis), the answer would be yes. Because in The Paper stated, “Mountain View Coalition members and their attorneys are now celebrating their victory in the battle to address the long history of cumulative impacts, environmental injustice, and environmental racism in their community.” Thus, if you are responsible for polluting the South Valley, you are an “Environmental Racist.”
But there is more to the story than what was written. How much more pollution, and how would it compare to shopping center traffic? Did creating many good-paying jobs for low-income families justify the asphalt plant alone? How can the family that owns the asphalt company be racist if they can trace their heritage to Spain? The air quality in the South Valley is more impacted by air pollution sources up-wind in Albuquerque than what is created in the South Valley.
Stopping the new plant in the South Valley is more about the Gentrification of the South Valley than the environmental racism of the disenfranchised. Like most Gentrified communities, the disenfranchised are forced onto undesirable lands, such as the Highland Meadows community.
In New Mexico, we are too intertwined among families, land, water, and air to cling to the idea that, somehow, we are separate from one another. What comes to mind from that great American philosopher Pogo, when racism is tossed at one’s supposed enemy, ‘We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is US.”
It is time to end throwing the Racism Stones. As Jesus said, “Let He Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone.”
I try to add a few Easter Eggs in my articles. This article has a few; the last article had a few, posse and marauder with power and money. If you “clicked” on power and money, posse and marauder would have made more sense.
I discussed who are the prosecuting attorneys and judges for Biden and Trump’s legal proceedings in last week’s radio program. I specifically outlined why Assistant US Attorney Weiss was weak and had a history of letting the Bidens off the hook. A week later, the national conservative media were covering the same facts.
A Side Note
In the 8/11/2023 Albuquerque Journal article AP, “Mickelson wagered more than 1$ billion, book claims”. Phill Mickelson has wagered more than 1 billion over the last three decades and wanted to place a $400,000 bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup while playing for Team USA, according to a much-anticipated book by renowned gambler Bill Walters.
Billy Walters and my path crossed three decades ago at the Paradise Hill Golf Course.
A competitor recommended our company to renovate the Paradise Golf Course Club House for the new owners. We were out of work, and we took the job. The owner’s representatives (the boys) were out of Las Vegas, and they looked the part. During the renovation, the boys would fly in from Vegas every couple of weeks. I would meet them at the end of the day. We sat around the bar table while they drank whiskey, smoked cigars, and they talked about what Billy wanted and his recent successes. The boys explained that Billy, Billy Walters was more successful than Jimmy the Greek. I wanted to believe it.
Billy won more than he lost, and we got paid. After that, I never took another job that wasn’t good enough for my competitor, and I always ensured there was a letter of financing from a bank.
I hope you have a great week.
Host, “To the Point with Mick Rich.” 2018 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate (NM). Founder & CEO, Mick Rich Contractors. Husband, father, grandfather. Read more from Mick Rich at MickRich.substack.com.
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