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Southwest Water Resources: Public Works

Public works are infrastructure projects financed and constructed by the government. As they relate to water, examples can include: pipelines, canals, water supply, sewage, and dams.

Finding Resources in the Catalog

There is a wide range of information on dams and other public works at the NMSL.

Here are some tips for searching our catalog:

  • Name of the dam, reservoir or other structure of interest
    • You can add specific terms to further refine your search, such as environmental, legislation, or safety
  • The agency involved in construction (i.e. The Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Bureau of Indian Affaird) or the agency charged with monitoring various aspects of the structure (i.e. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, New Mexico State University Experiment Station).

New Mexico State Resources

NM Dam Safety Bureau

The Dam Safety Bureau ensures that dams in New Mexico are designed, constructed, operated, and maintained as safely as possible. Dams that equal or exceed 25 feet in height, which exceed 15 acre-feet of storage or dams that equal or exceed 50 acre-feet storage, which equal or exceed 6 feet in height are under the jurisdiction of the State Engineer. Of the more than 600 dams in the state, nearly 300 dams have jurisdictional status.

Image from the National Inventory of Dams (NID) which includes dams more than 25' in height or storing more than 50 acre-ft, or classified as HH or SH potential

The American Society of Civil Engineer's Infrastructure Report Card for New Mexico

The ASCE Committee on America’s Infrastructure, made up of 28 dedicated civil engineers from across the country with decades of expertise in all categories, volunteers their time to work with ASCE Infrastructure Initiatives staff to prepare the Infrastructure Report Card. The Committee assesses all relevant data and reports, consults with technical and industry experts, and assigns grades using the following key criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.

In Our Southwest Collection

National Resources

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Bureau of Reclamation is best known for the dams, powerplants, and canals it constructed in the 17 western states. It has constructed more than 600 dams and reservoirs including the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and the Grand Coulee on the Columbia River. They are largest wholesaler of water in the country. The Bureau of Reclamation brings water to more than 31 million people and provides one out of five Western farmers (140,000) with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60% of the nation's vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts. It is also the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States with 53 powerplants that annually provide more than 40 billion kilowatt hours generating nearly a billion dollars in power revenues and produce enough electricity to serve 3.5 million homes. They maintain a Projects and Facilities database that includes detailed reviews with considerable attention paid to history, costs, beneficiaries, engineering, water data, and productivity. Pages on individual projects, dams, and power plants can be found by selecting off of alphabetical and state listings, and flat maps.

National Inventory of Dams

The goal of the NID is to include all dams in the United States that meet specific criteria, yet in reality, it is limited to information that can be gathered and properly interpreted with the given funding. The NID initially consisted of approximately 45,000 dams, which were gathered from extensive record searches and some feature extraction from aerial imagery. Since continued and methodical updates have been conducted, data collection has been focused on the most reliable data sources, which are the many federal and state government dam construction and regulation offices. The NID is published every two years.