Feds: Forecast Is Grim For Middle Rio Grande

Apr 18, 2013

Credit Tomas Castelazo

Federal water managers have released their annual operating plan for the Middle Rio Grande Valley and it doesn't look good.

The Bureau of Reclamation says the state is heading into its third year of drought, snowpack in key mountain ranges throughout northern New Mexico was only 45 percent of average and reservoirs are already low.

Hydrologist Ed Kandl says it's almost unprecedented to have three bad years in a row.

The agency's model shows somewhere between 65,000 acre-feet and 80,000 acre-feet will be needed to meet demand. And that's if New Mexico gets minimal monsoons this year.

Officials say they are negotiating a series of water lease agreements that could net at least 40,000 acre-feet to supplement the river's flows this year.

An acre-foot is equal to about 326,000 gallons.