This article is the first in a three-part series about water, climate, drought and agriculture in New Mexico???s Lower Rio Grande Valley on www.Climate.gov by Zack Guido.
On the Rio Grande???historically the wellspring for more than five million people in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico???coping with scarcity has become a reality, and water management and use in the region may be a leading example of how to adapt to drier times.
Dry Times: Past & Future
Streamflow in the headwaters above Del Norte, Colorado, where most of the water in the Rio Grande originates, has been declining over the long term. In the last 110 years, the Rio Grande has been ferrying about 14,000 acre-feet less per decade, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In the past decade, dry conditions have been acute.
Since 2002, precipitation has been about 83 percent of the historical average with rain and snow falling below average in eight of the last 10 years. It???s been the driest decade since the 1950s and early 1960s. The low flows have caused storage in Elephant Butte to tank, leaving little water for farmers. This year, the district was able to allocate just 10 inches per acre; last year it was only 4 inches. Since 2003, they have doled out a full allotment only once, in 2008.
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Read the rest of this story online at: www.climatewatch.noaa.gov/article/2012/drought-on-the-rio-grande.
Coping with Drought on the Rio Grande