New Mexico’s Rio Grande forecast: 50-plus percent above average

Runoff this year on the Rio Grande at Otowi in northern New Mexico is forecast to be 50 percent above average, according to preliminary numbers out this morning from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in the March-July forecast. There’s always a big spread in the forecast this early in …

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Ignore this quite encouraging Rio Grande runoff forecast

It is only January. We have months and months of snow season left, which will determine whether we have a good runoff year on New Mexico’s Rio Grande. So you should in no way click obsessively on the snowpack map every morning while you’re having your first cup of coffee. I repeat, do not click. …

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The risks of overestimating future water demand

Laura Paskus has a new piece touching on an issue that is one of the most important policy problems in western US water management – the tendency of water managers to overestimate future demand. In this case, it’s the Gila River basin in southwestern New Mexico, where planners are considering significant investment to build a …

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Effluent as an environmental good

My University of New Mexico Water Resources Program colleague Bruce Thomson loves to point out that Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant is, in New Mexico, the second largest tributary to the Rio Grande after the Rio Chama. But as tributaries go, it’s a short one – under 100 yards/meters from the outfall to the main river …

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In Indian Country, where pickle buckets count as water infrastructure

Kirk Yazzie, his wife and three children, ages 2 to 9, live in a one-room house in Thoreau that uses a solar-powered water pump that draws water from a cistern to a tap inside their home.Before the demonstration project started two months ago, Yazzie said he hauled water from St. Bonaventure’s well across town. “I …

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Elephant Butte Reservoir and climate change

Elephant Butte, one of the first big dams built by the then-Reclamation Service (now Bureau of Reclamation), is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. As the graph above shows, its reservoir ended the 2016 water year Sept. 30 at less than 7 percent full. The reservoir’s ups and downs through history show the great variability …

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Greenhouse gases and southwest “megadrought”

Scientists have dubbed decades-long periods of aridity in southwestern North America “megadroughts“. We’ve had them in the past, and research has long pointed toward an increasing risk of them as the climate warms. New research published last week by Cornell’s Toby Ault and colleagues has generated a wave of scary headlines – A Mega-Drought Is Coming to …

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Turning off a river for winter

After a great day-and-a-half gathering of the New Mexico water nerds in Silver City (the 61st annual New Mexico Water Conference, put on by New Mexico State University’s Water Resources Research Institute, I took a leisurely drive this afternoon along one of my favorite stretches of the Rio Grande. The Hatch Valley (more formally known as …

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