Water managers are scrambling to find a way to maintain wild populations of the Rio Grande silvery minnow after the annual fall census failed to locate any of the small fish for the first time in 20 years.
Maintaining enough flow in the Rio Grande to support the fish during drought years while still providing water to cities and farmers is a big problem. A third year of drought-level flows on the river next year could send the population of the endangered species even lower.
The Albuquerque Journal reports the fish is at the heart of a battle that pits water users and conservationists.
Three federal agencies are working against a March 1 deadline to update an expiring 10-year plan for managing the river under the Endangered Species Act