Watching the water spread across the Middle Rio Grande Valley Floor

I feel this morning a bit like a kid watching the NORAD map of Santa on his global travels, as I hit “reload” on the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District’s new gaging data page. The district opened the diversion gates early this morning at Cochiti Dam, at the head of what we call New Mexico’s …

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In Colorado’s San Luis Valley, paying for the water they use

Folks in Colorado’s San Luis Valley are engaged in a bold experiment in western water management – charging farmers for the water they use. Jerd Smith explains: A new rule approved by the area’s largest irrigation district, known as Subdistrict 1, and the Alamosa-based Rio Grande Water Conservation District, sets fees charged to pump water …

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New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande: forest of cottonwoods, forest of pecans

  This Rio Grande crossing, just south of Belen, 30-plus miles downstream from Albuquerque, has changed dramatically since Jack Delano took the picture above in spring 1943. The Bosque I’ve stared at Delano’s picture often, because of the story it tells – a broad open river valley. It’s nothing like that today. I pieced together …

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Somos Atrisco: Anchoring greater Albuquerque’s heritage

Work is moving forward on a new park sort of thing to mark an important piece of Albuquerque’s historical geography: the old Atrisco ditch heading. Carolyn Carlson reports in the new City Desk ABQ (yay non-profit journalism!) that the Bernalillo County Commission adopted the “Atrisco Acequia Madre Master Plan” at its Jan. 9 meeting. It’ll …

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Preliminary: New Mexico’s Rio Grande Compact debt rose ~25,000 acre feet in 2023

New Mexico once again fell short in 2023 of the requirement set out in the Rio Grande Compact to deliver water to Elephant Butte Reservoir for use in Southern New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, delivering ~25,000 acre feet less than the Compact requires, according to preliminary estimates presented at Monday’s meeting of the Middle Rio …

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Lousy start to the 2023-24 snowpack year on the Rio Grande

Three months into the 2023-24 water year, we have our first early look at what sort of runoff to expect on the Rio Grande in the coming year, and it doesn’t look great. The January NRCS median forecast for March-July runoff is 42 percent of “normal” at Otowi, the critical forecast point where the Rio …

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2023 in review: Exploring the commons, looking for a place to pee

On my penultimate bike ride of 2023 Friday, I turned west on Bobby Foster Road in Albuquerque’s southwest valley, wandering past junk yards and Ace Metals: “THE BEST PRICES IN ALBUQUERQUE For: Steel, Iron, Junk Cars, Tin, Appliances, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, Batteries, Stainless Radiators, and Catalytic Converters”. With my current loosey-goosey career, it’s easier for …

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New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande 2023 Review

This was a big flow year on New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande, but weird, in ways that highlight the challenges we face. Flow in the River Total flow into New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley (measured at Otowi) sits at 1.26 million acre feet with two more days’ flow to go, so round it off …

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Jardins du Nouveau Siècle

One of the first books Bob Berrens suggested I read when we began working together was Voltaire’s Candide. This has come in handy. Candide is a bit of a romp, a picaresque in which our hero has all kinds of horrifying misadventures before settling down to tend his garden. Il faut cultiver notre jardin. Our …

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Inkstain mailbag: Why “Ribbons” plural?

Alert reader T texted a question: Why “Ribbons” vs “Ribbon”? I can’t wait to read all about it. Thanks, T! The title of our forthcoming book* Ribbons of Green: The Rio Grande and the Making of a Modern American City comes from a passage in the strange and wonderful book The Desert by John van …

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