Regular readers will know of my obsession with pushing beyond the “OMG we’re running out of water!” story line to look in detail at who, specifically, gets shorted when supplies run low and what adaptive responses they have available.
In New Mexico, water managers are using the occasion of our current drought to helpfully prepare a test case for me!
The federal government has begun notifying Rio Grande water users that they may not get a full allotment of water from the San Juan-Chama project in 2013 after two years of deep drought sapped reserves.
San Juan-Chama water, imported through a tunnel beneath the Continental Divide, has been a lifeline for Rio Grande water users in recent drought years, especially Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District farmers and the Albuquerque metro area’s government water utility.
But two years of drought have drained the project’s water reserves, and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation managers have been informing water agencies that they could see a 20 percent curtailment in water deliveries next year.