Going through files recently, I ran across this fascinating little bit of New Mexico water policy documentary history. It’s from 2011, when the Audubon Society and the Elephant Butte Irrigation District were trying to figure out a way to collaborate on a habitat restoration project on the Lower Rio Grande. The idea was to lease agricultural water rights and use them to irrigate riparian habitat along the river channel. Audubon was anxious to do this because this is the sort of thing Audubon does, and EBID was interested because of the protection such habitat might offer against Endangered Species Act claims.
But federal law that created the irrigation project stood in the way, because it specified that the project’s water was to be used for agriculture. The solution? Call this agriculture: