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Water Safety on the Rio Grande

City and State officials discuss water safety and education as rising temperatures melt snow and cause increasing river flow rates in the Duke City.

May 8, 2023

Mayor Keller, Parks and Recreation, Albuquerque Fire Rescue and Albuquerque Police Department partnered with New Mexico State Parks to share a safety message as water levels rise along the Rio Grande. Due to higher than average snowpack this winter and warmer temperatures, there is more run off and water flow in the river. The river access along the Bosque draws in many recreational users and visitors from Albuquerque and around the state. The Rio Grande is a great asset for the City and surrounding ecosystem, however with the increasing water levels and current speeds rising, it is important to be educated and properly equipped before recreating on the river.

“The safety of our residents and visitors is always our top priority,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “We encourage everyone getting outdoors to enjoy the river to be aware, cautious and mindful of its potential dangers.”

The current stream flow of the Rio Grande in the Albuquerque area is well over 4000 cubic feet per second, which is approximately four times higher than it was at this time last year. Aside from the water levels and speeds, there are many other potential dangers to be aware of such as overbank flooding, turbulent flow issues, and river obstacles. Respecting wild spaces and their potential dangers is the responsibility of the users. River goers are reminded to be aware of their location and to utilize the mile markers along the river if they need to report an emergency.

“These are the highest water levels and fastest flowing water in this section of the river in 4 years,” said Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Dennis Vasquez. “Although the high-water levels have many ecological benefits, it is important for users to know their capabilities and limits. Be prepared and be safe.”

As usership of the river increases over the warmer months, Albuquerque Fire Rescue, Albuquerque Police Department and New Mexico State Parks will be completing additional patrols along the Rio Grande to encourage and enforce proper use of water crafts and personal floatation devices.

“Life jackets save lives,” said New Mexico State Parks Boating Safety Officer Scott Chalmers. “State law requires every person boating on a river to wear a personal floatation device that is properly fitted and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.”