Agua es Vida – 2017
Youth, Rainwater and Bees
Eight students from Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque earned the opportunity to have a paid internship with the Querencia Institute to work on various hands on projects in New Mexico focused on sustainability, water conservation and habitat creation.
The New Mexico Water Collaborative partnered with the Querencia Institute and US Fish & Wildlife to work on implementing sustainable technologies at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s Resilience Garden in Albuquerque. The team worked to:
- Install active rainwater harvesting systems from the rooftops of the Education Center buildings.
- Install passive rainwater berms around existing trees.
- Install passive water harvesting swales with trees to shade central courtyard area.
- Install pollinator plants to complement the existing cultural garden.
- Build bee sanctuary to provide shelter for many species of bees.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s Resilience Garden is dedicated to telling the story of Pueblo agriculture. The garden does this with the winding of its pathway, the plant selections, and the techniques of Pueblo farming. It reflects thousands of years of agricultural knowledge and practice of the Pueblo people of New Mexico. Starting first with native plants of this area which grow wild, to developments of waffle gardens which concentrate rain water in one area, then to the use of flooding and rows which require a permanent water source; the last piece is the raised beds and foods that were brought to New Mexico. The Resilience Garden is an important part of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s mission to preserve and perpetuate Pueblo culture and to advance understanding by presenting with dignity and respect, the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people of New Mexico.
“The project was an amazing collaboration. Not only were students doing the work and learning simultaneously, but, the concept of the project was exactly in line with our mission. Instead of working against the land, Yvette Tovar with The New Mexico Water Collaborative did a wonderful job at listening to the land and working with the natural flow. This was truly a wonderful experience for my team and we appreciate all the efforts that went into organizing it.”
Cultural Education Specialist
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
The project shall install two rainwater harvesting cisterns for storage and reuse. One 2000 gallon cistern shall be placed at the west end of the education buildings and connected to the automated irrigation system for reuse in the cultural garden. The other, a 750 gallon cistern shall be located within the plaza area with a hose bib connection to be used at the staff’s discretion in their education programming. The plaza area between the building will have additional plant material(including pollinator plants) installed to add shade to the area.
The project includes installing cobble to create four passive water harvesting areas around the education buildings. Swales with larger cobble will serve to slow down and capture rainwater for planting benefit as well as reduce soil erosion currently occurring. The larger existing swale near the parking lot shall have pollinator plants installed.
The capture and reuse of rainwater demonstrates an awareness of water scarcity in an arid climate and this directly ties to Pueblo cultural values with respect to water and its value. Capturing rainwater reduces how much treated fresh water is pumped to support plant material. This approach affects both storm water management, and conserves the volume of municipal water needed to support the cultural garden and outdoor learning space.