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The Recovery Act in Your Community: Protecting Farmland & Houses

The dam is put to work after a rain storm.

The Prop Canyon Dam is put to work after a rain storm.

Prop Canyon Dam was built in 1960 in the village of Bluewater, New Mexico by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Lava Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Bluewater Toltec Irrigation District. The earthen structure was erected to protect crops, residents and infrastructure from serious flooding, and for 50 years it did just that.

Then cracks began to appear in the dam.

Nearly three decades of drought, constant western winds and New Mexico’s arid climate had taken their toll. During recent annual operation and maintenance inspections, engineers from Lava SWCD became concerned about the cracks. They asked NRCS to analyze the situation and develop a plan for repair.

After NRCS conducted the review and developed a repair plan, the project stalled without funding. Then the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided $1.2 million to implement the plan. ARRA, commonly known as the Recovery Act, was created by the Obama Administration to boost the economy, in part by developing and improving the Nation’s infrastructure.

The Prop Canyon Dam reparation project is expected to be completed by mid-October 2010. It is one of two flood control structures that protect agricultural lands and 30 homes by slowly releasing floodwater into the Rio San Jose.

“This repair project reflects a commitment that NRCS will be there for the next 50 years of the life of this dam,” said NRCS New Mexico State Conservationist Dennis Alexander.

Learn more about NRCS ARRA Programs here.

Equipment pushes up and compacts the dam fill material.

Equipment pushes up and compacts the dam fill material.

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