New Mexico Needs New Sources of Water

The Rio Grande is dying. The river dries up totally in increasingly longer stretches and for increasing longer periods. Throughout New Mexico, cities, ranchers and farmers are forced to pump expensive and dwindling groundwater supplies. In the fall of 2012, the water level in the Elephant Butte Reservoir on the Rio Grande was only 100,000 AF — or 5% of capacity.

Elephant Butte Reservoir 1991

Saving the Rio Grande requires new approaches to water management in the basin. The Augustin Plains Ranch project will help alleviate this situation in two significant ways.

  • Global Warming will result in less snowpack, earlier snowmelt and more water lost to evaporation. Peak flow and total streamflow are projected to decline. Runoff from rain may increase and occur earlier in the season. By capturing and storing runoff and distributing it to the river evenly throughout the year, Augustin Plains Ranch will mitigate the impact of Global Warming.

  • The Greater Albuquerque Metropolitan Area and the Middle Rio Grande Valley currently rely on two sources for their water needs. The Santa Fe Group Aquifer, which is in large part being mined, and surface water from the Rio Grande and San Juan Chama (Colorado) rivers. Augustin Plains Ranch provides the basin with another source of water that would otherwise evaporate. To put it in context, it could replace the entire amount of river water currently taken by Albuquerque to the benefit of farmers, ranchers, habitats and endangered species.