A legal battle over water in the lower Rio Grande has New Mexico accusing the federal government of trying to take control of the state’s groundwater.
In a filing in the Third District Court in Las Cruces recently, the Bureau of Reclamation said it should be able to pump groundwater when it needs to deliver water in the Rio Grande to downstream users, such as farmers.
That raised the hackles of New Mexico state legislators, and others, including the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer. That office controls the state’s groundwater.
A study by the federal government shows that New Mexico is expected to see its population that uses the Colorado River Basin for water grow from nearly 1.5 million people today to between 2 million and 3 million by 2060.
That's according to the latest data from a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation study.
The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/OhHnQI) that New Mexico and the other states that depend on the Colorado River Basin for water face a growing gap between how much water nature provides and how much people want to use.
The monsoon rains arrived this month, but it’s still hot and dry in New Mexico.
The ongoing drought is placing stress on the state’s rivers and streams, including the Rio Grande. And while cities and farmers still receive their shares of water, each summer, one user gets left out—the Rio Grande itself. Like it has every summer for the past decade, the Rio Grande downstream of Albuquerque is drying.
The water utility in Albuquerque inadvertently diverted farmers' irrigation water from the Rio Grande for more than a week in late June and used it for the city's drinking water supplies.
The Albuquerque Journal reports (http://bit.ly/MXVOs1) that John Stomp, chief operating officer of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility, acknowledged the improper diversions and agreed to pay back the farmers.