San Juan-Chama forecast: looks like a second year of shortfall

According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, warm February weather meant the earliest runoff in the 40-plus year history of the San Juan-Chama Project, which brings water from southern Colorado to the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. But “early” does not translate to “a lot of water”. San Juan-Chama Project contractors, the largest of …

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New Mexico water policy: on muddling through

My former newspaper colleague Win Quigley came over to the UNM Water Resources Program offices the other day to talk to Bruce Thomson and I about central New Mexico’s water problems and the virtue (or inevitability) of muddling through: “We know how to do this. Humans are adaptable,” Fleck said. “When people have less water, …

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Tree rings in the Rolling Stone

Would I be right to guess that this is the first time tree rings have been in the Rolling Stone? “It was like looking through a telescope into the future to see how forests would respond, and it felt awful,” Williams says. “The result was totally unimaginable: wildfires, bark beetles, a huge reduction in forest …

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A reminder that stormwater isn’t free water

There is a natural desire in water-short communities to capture and use stormwater. But a brewing feud between the state of New Mexico and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a reminder that tweaking the stormwater management system is not without consequences, because the water you’re capturing would otherwise be going somewhere and doing something. …

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Agricultural land, drought and taxes

The New Mexico legislature is considering a bill this year that would make it easier for farmers to maintain their “agricultural” designation, for property tax purposes, during drought. This is important for preservation of rural agricultural ways of life, because ag land taxes are cheaper than land otherwise labeled (“residential”, for example). For this reason, …

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Article VII of the Rio Grande Compact

Article VII of the Rio Grande Compact is one of the keys to allocating the river’s supply among Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas: Neither Colorado nor New Mexico shall increase the amount of water in storage in reservoirs constructed after 1929 whenever there is less than 400,000 acre feet of usable water in project storage…. …

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Strategies for Middle Rio Grande water, March 21

My friends at the Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly are gathering Sat., March 21, to discuss strategies for managing water in the face of climate change in the central New Mexico reach of the river: While there is a Regional Water Plan for the three county-area (Sandoval, Bernalillo and Valencia), it is ten years old. …

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Rio Grande forecast improves, but that’s not saying much

update, Thursday, 3/5: Final March 1 forecast numbers are in, unchanged for those in the preliminary quoted below. previously: It says something about the drought on New Mexico’s Rio Grande in recent years that a forecast of 67 percent of average runoff into Elephant Butte Reservoir is good news. That’s the mid-point of the preliminary …

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