4 On Your Side looks at jetty jacks

Posted at: 08/26/2013 5:49 PM
Updated at: 08/27/2013 12:28 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A viewer sent KOB Eyewitness News 4 a photo and asked why there were rusting piles of metal in the bosque – and why the city hasn’t removed them. The photo showed jetty jacks.

They’re a source of mystery for some people.

“I saw all these things, the jetty jacks, and I have no idea what they’re for,” Ryan Costello said.

In some cases, they’ve also been safety hazards.

“In the early 2000s when we had the bosque fires, the concern was that they were interfering with firefighting operations,” Steve Bolberg of the Army Corps of Engineers said.

But now, most jetty jacks are just a symbol of the past. They were built in the 1950s when water in the Rio Grande ran higher. They slowed the flow of the river, filtered out sediment and stabilized soil so plants could grow.

They also strengthened river banks. Some are still useful now.

“Because if we were to release the river, and get high flows and the river went back to meandering it could still attack and erode the levees,” Bolberg said.

But the Army Corps of Engineers says most of them serve no purpose, so slowly but surely they’re being removed. Groups that want to restore the bosque are working to get rid of them, but it will likely take years until they all disappear. That’s because each removal project requires a new source of funding.

After the jetty jacks are removed, their parts can be reused and recycled.