From this morning’s newspaper, a look at the coming trouble among farming, fish, cities and water in the Rio Grande:
[W]ith farms and cities diverting water from the river to meet their needs, leaving enough for the fish and the ecosystem on which it depends while at the same time meeting human needs has become an increasingly contentious issue.
“Water drives the economy,” explained Estevan López, head of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission.
How to strike the balance is the subject of discussions under way, largely behind closed doors, among the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers. The agencies are working against a March 1 deadline, when the current 10-year plan for managing the river under the federal Endangered Species Act expires.
The water agencies appear intent on finding a way to keep the species alive and encourage its recovery even during periods with lower flows in the river than we see today. Critics contend that is unrealistic – that the Rio Grande’s human water users need to learn to do with less, so that more water can be left for the river.
It would be nice if we could – just once – learn from the experience of the 5200 other places that have gone through this.