This morning’s operations missive from the federal-state-local Middle Rio Grande operations group (by “Middle” here we mean central New Mexico) notes a release of ~100 cubic feet per second of imported San Juan-Chama Project water for environmental flows, an effort to help the struggling Rio Grande silvery minnow.

SJC water is removed from the Colorado River Basin in the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado, through a series of tunnels beneath the continental divide, for use in the Rio Grande Basin.

So – water from one troubled basin (the Colorado) to provide environmental benefits in another (the Rio Grande).


  1. HI John, thanks for this update. How can I get access to those missives from the MRG operations group?

    These tradeoffs will become more fraught and difficult over time, it seems, as water supplies decline in both of these big important basins due to rising temperatures.

  2. This is also probably not a valid use for Colorado river water under the compact, Article IV(b). Now that the dominant purposes, Ag and Domestic, are being interfered with someone should put an end to Transmountain Diversions for environmental flows and recharging aquifers. Sending Colorado River water to Texas is also contrary to the compact, they aren’t a party to the compact.

    It’s bad enough an extra 750,000 af from the Colorado was given to Mexico in exchange for 350,000 af from Mexico tributaries to the Rio Grande gifted to Texas in the 1945 treaty. This is why there is a structural deficit in the Lower Basin and the Colorado river is crashing. State Dept archives clearly indicate Mexico and the State Dept. knew they were giving the Upper Basin’s III(a) entitlement to Mexico and we’re creating the structural deficit which has now crashed the Colorado.

    In 1968 Mo Udall declared a “National Obligation” for Interior to remove this burden from Colorado water users which they’ve never delivered on.

    You can read the State Dept. memos on this deal in 1943-1944 here:

    Article IV(b)
    (b) Subject to the provisions of this compact, water of the Colorado River System may be impounded and used for the generation of electrical power, but such impounding and use shall be subservient to the use and consumption of such water for agricultural and domestic purposes and shall not interfere with or prevent use for such dominant purposes.

  3. Very well said, Ed, although I doubt this water makes it to Texas. Your view of the docs on the treaty are spot on.

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