Our water supply was the topic of an interesting commentary
by VB Price in the NM Independent a few days back. So when I saw an email announcement for the Thursday April 16th evening Rio Grande Water Compact Forum, I went to the website of the sponsoring organization. For twelve years the Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly has been in existence, helping bring attention to the issue of water resources here. (*See description of organization at end of their press release at bottom of this post.)
On their website
I found a pdf Summary of the Middle Rio Grande Regional Water Plan 2000-2050 Volume 1 – April 2004
and share this page:
The mission of the regional water plan is to balance water use in the region with renewable supply.
Renewable supply is the amount of water that comes into the region each year that we are legally
entitled to use. We now use on average about 55,000 acre-feet per year more than our renewable
supply. Population in the region has grown by 21% since 1993 and continues to expand by about 1.5%
per year, which will result in even greater deficits in the future if we do nothing.
The difference between use and renewable supply is currently being made up by “mining” groundwater. Although there is some recharge of the aquifer, we are presently using much more groundwater than is recharged each year. As a result, the aquifer has declined as much as 160 feet in some areas of Albuquerque since 1960. This is not sustainable. Continued aquifer declines would soon cause land subsidence in Albuquerque and damage to buildings on the surface, and in the long run, Albuquerque would run out of potable water in the aquifer. The water plan is designed to address these key issues.
Aquifer Drop Since 1960: As much as 160 ft. (in some areas)
Population Growth Since 1993: 21%
Current Population Expansion: 1.5% per year
Current Aquifer Depletion Rate: 55,000 acre-feet per year
An acre-foot is enough water to cover one acre of land one foot deep. It is equivalent to 325,851 gallons.
In the Middle Rio Grande, we have been using 17,921,805,000 more gallons (55,000 acre-feet) each year than the region receives, enough to fill a football field eleven miles deep."
After reading all this and renewing my knowledge of our situation, I am sure glad we are getting this good rain. And I am definitely thinking about attending the Fourth Annual Río Grande Compact Public Forum.
Here's most of their press release:
Thu Apr 16th 2009 6:30pm to 8:30pm Fourth Annual Río Grande Compact Public Forum
@ UNM Continuing Education Center, Room C 1634 University Boulevard NE (north of Indian School)
(Registration Free) CONTACTS: Kevin Bean, President Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly (505) 293-9208 KevinBean06@comcast.net Professor Bruce Thomson, Director UNM Water Resources Program (505) 277-7759 WRP@UNM.edu
- Rolf Schmidt-Peterson, Río Grande Basin Manager
New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission
Río Grande Compact, 2008 Accounting and 2009 Updates
- Dr. Julie Coonrod, UNM Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
What Climate Change Means to Water Supplies in the Río Grande and How it Might Impact the Compact
Río Grande water use between Cochiti Lake and Elephant Butte reservoir is allocated between the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Texas in accordance with the provisions of a 1938 federally authorized agreement known as the Rio Grande Compact.
This compact establishes entitlements among the states, including New Mexico’s annual downstream flow obligations for southern New Mexico and Texas.
“A failure by New Mexico to meet its Río Grande Compact water delivery obligations would result in lawsuits and unbelievably expensive penalties and mitigation costs,” said Elaine Hebard, former Board member of the Water Assembly.
At the end of March each year, the three states get together, agree on the past year's final water delivery accounting, and project what the current year water deliveries will look like given forecasts for water resources in the Río Grande watershed.
Since 2006, the Middle Río Grande Water Assembly has sponsored a free public forum to discuss water delivery within the limitations of the Río Grande Compact.
“Holding a forum in April allows the public to learn about the results of the March meeting as well as become better informed about the Río Grande Compact and its effect upon us,” said Bob Wessely, Vice President of the Water Assembly.
The forum covers such issues as:
· What are our rights and obligations under the Río Grande Compact?
· How well has New Mexico met its obligations in the past?
· How well did we perform in 2008?
· What are the expectations for delivery in 2009?
· What does the future look given expectations of climate change impacts, population growth, and other impacts to our water supply?
Presentations from past forums can be found – along with the Regional Water Plan – on the Water Assembly web site (WaterAssembly.org).
*The Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly is an all volunteer non-profit organization that was established in 1997 to provide broad-based independent advice for water planning in the region. The Water Assembly was the prime participant in organizing and conducting the open and inclusive public process that led to the Regional Water Plan.
The Water Resources Program offers the Master of Water Resources (MWR) degree, an interdisciplinary professional degree designed to prepare students for careers in water resources management and related fields. The University of New Mexico’s location in the Southwestern USA means that there is a natural emphasis on dry-region water issues; however, the MWR degree is designed to provide its students a firm grounding in water resources that is applicable throughout the world."