Photo of an acequia system in the Bosque. Credit: Jaren Peplinski

Photo of an acequia system in the Bosque near Candelaria Nature Preserve.


The vision for the national Urban Waters Partnership is to restore urban water quality, revitalize our communities, and reconnect communities to their urban waterways, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed.

The strategy for pursuing this vision in each partnership location is to improve coordination among federal agencies, local government and municipalities, non-profits, educational institutions, and other community-led groups to integrate efforts at a local level.


The Middle Rio Grande/Albuquerque (MRG/ABQ) Urban Waters Partnership in the greater Albuquerque metropolitan area of New Mexico was established in 2013 as one of 20 EPA-designated Urban Waters locations. Like many western river ecosystems, the MRG faces numerous challenges in balancing competing needs with a finite water supply and other resource constraints. Historical practices by our ancestors and immigrants to the MRG have established the conditions that we have inherited. Long-term drought, exacerbated by climate change, is changing conditions that affect natural and human communities as we strive to improve our precious Rio Grande. The needs of our growing urban environment must be met while continuing to preserve natural systems, the agricultural economy, and the cultural practices of Pueblos and villages up and down the valley.

MRG/ABQ Urban Waters - Partnership Themes

Theme 1: Invest in Healthy Watersheds

  • Promote landscape level conservation and restoration

  • Utilize green infrastructure to manage stormwater

  • Emphasize everyone’s role in watershed stewardship: government, private, public, individual

  • Maximize natural infrastructure for healthy ecosystems

  • Measure results for future initiatives

  • Support reliable and resilient water utilities

  • Diversify and stretch water supplies

  • Transform wastewater into a resource

  • Pursue alternative funding and financing models

  • Incorporate climate resilience into utility planning

Theme 2: Engage in Education and Outreach

  • Engage with and hear voices from the community around watershed issues

  • Encourage education and engagement opportunities for all ages and audiences

  • Utilize community science for ecosystem monitoring and watershed restoration

  • Enhance community capacity to engage in water planning and governance

  • Encourage programs and events that help community members access, understand and appreciate their urban waterways

  • Educate local governments on how zoning changes can support Urban Waters initiatives

Theme 3: Facilitate Economic Revitalization and Prosperity

  • Foster community resilience in the face of a changing climate

  • Promote and invest in tourism, outdoor recreation, and conservation jobs

  • Encourage youth employment and training opportunities

  • Utilize green infrastructure to mitigate urban heat islands and revitalize neighborhoods

  • Encourage integration of water stewardship in corporate and agency strategies, establishing water stewardship as an essential part of operations and decision-making

  • Reflect Urban Waters goals in municipal planning documents and development ordinances

  • Create partnerships and promote sustainable agricultural systems, including urban agriculture

  • Leverage water investments to generate community benefits

Theme 4: Foster Active Collaboration and True Partnership

  • Leverage resources, share information and work collaboratively to support joint projects and objectives.

  • Facilitate regular and extensive stakeholder and community input and engagement

  • Support upstream and downstream public-private partnerships and communication

  • Integrate planning across the water cycle

  • Sustain a foundation of success by emphasizing benefits of collaboration

  • Networking

  • Sharing resources

  • Promoting leadership opportunities