Charles Thompson

NM Office of the State Engineer

Contact Details

NM Office of the State Engineer


Charles (Chuck) was born in Pueblo, Colorado during the Eisenhower administration but grew up in Colorado Springs. His family did quite a bit of trout fishing and camping in his formative years and he has always liked to be outside. He moved with his family to Phoenix, Arizona as a teenager and began what he refers to as a semi-wasted youth. He started working on import cars in High School and continued down a path of auto service and garage ownership for about ten years. During that time he owned and drove a few formula cars and participated in Sports Car Club of America events in Arizona and southern California. He was able to participate in the SCCA national runoffs at Road Atlanta in 1983.

The path to Indy did not materialize and he decided that a professional career had more promise so he returned to community college in Mesa Arizona. He relocated to Denver, Colorado so that his wife could complete an internship. While in Denver Chuck completed his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado in 1992. During his undergraduate experience he had the good fortune to have an internship at the US Bureau of Reclamation in the Embankment Dams Branch. That Reclamation internship is responsible for giving him the bug for dam engineering.

Chuck and his wife decided to return to the southwest and moved to Albuquerque in 1993. Chuck went to work with Roy F. Weston to assist with a dam reconstruction project on the Laguna Reservation and stayed for 5 years. His work at Weston included static and dynamic stability analysis for embankment dams and landfills and hydrologic analysis for landfill closures and other projects. It was at Weston that Chuck was first introduced to the HMR series for spillway design. During his Weston years he returned to the University of New Mexico to complete a MS degree in Civil Engineering with emphasis on geotechnical topics. After Weston he went to work at a local consulting firm, Resource Technology, Inc., that specialized in water resources engineering. At RTI he did hydrologic analysis, floodplain modeling, and drainage master planning.

Chuck had done a lot of work with the Public Works Division of Bernalillo County and when an opening came up there he elected to try public service. He worked in municipal development on storm drainage, utilities and other public projects. He learned a great deal about how the public views the work that engineers do and participated in hours of public meetings on many controversial projects. He was able to transition to municipal development at the City of Albuquerque in order to return to flood protection work but ended up managing the transportation design section. Work on controversial projects continued and Chuck continued to learn the importance of developing relationships and listening to customers. This position gave him the management experience needed to pursue his current position at the Office of the State Engineer. Two sons were born in the public works years and one is a student at UNM and the other is working as a water resources professional following completion of two degrees as a Lobo.

Chuck has held the position of Bureau Chief for Dam Safety in the Office of the State Engineer since August 2012. He inherited a fully developed dam safety program that was, and is, in the process of working with dam owners and their engineers toward compliance with regulations promulgated in December 2010. Chuck has a staff of five engineers and a staff assistant who have varied and extensive experience gained at other dam safety programs, consulting, and private sector work. He is confident in their ability and they take a serious and careful approach to dam safety. Chuck has learned a great deal from New Mexico dam owners and he has developed an appreciation for the challenges that they face.

Chuck continues to enjoy the outdoors and feels blessed to be able to travel around New Mexico. He likes to bicycle to work when possible and he rides his mountain bike and hikes when opportunities arise. Chuck and his wife are adjusting to having a nearly empty nest and are finding lots of things to fill their time.