ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – 2020 hasn’t been a good year, and to make things worse, the Rio Grande River is in real danger of running out of water. The water management programs that monitor the Rio Grande have had to dip into water reservoirs, just to make do and now water levels are at some of the lowest they’ve seen in years. “Mother nature has dealt us challenge after challenge this year,” said Bureau of Reclamation spokesperson, Mary Carlson.
In Sky News 13 video, you can see the Rio Grande is in bad shape with just patches of water here and there. “If we had to just depend on runoff, things would’ve looked a lot worse than what they do now,” said Bureau of Reclamation’s Water Operations Supervisor, Carolyn Donnelly.
Compared to previous years, the combination of very little runoff water and the lack of rains from the monsoons really hurt the river this year, which made the water flow through Albuquerque one of the worst officials have seen since 2011. But the Bureau of Reclamation did manage to find a way to keep it from drying completely up. “We worked with the state of New Mexico and the conservancy district to release some water from the Albuquerque Water Authority and that helped keep water in the reach between Cochiti and Isleta,” said Donnelly.
They leased about $700,000 dollars worth of water from Albuquerque’s Water Authority to keep the river wet, which is important not only to the natural habitat but the river also provides the irrigation water for farmers. “The farmers have had probably a much longer irrigation season than they would’ve otherwise,” said Donnelly.
They leased the most amount of water from the Water Authority as they could, which is the last amount of water available to help keep the Rio Grande’s water flowing. “We’ve really used all the resources we have and all of our partners have worked very closely and we’re going to continue to work closely but it won’t be unexpected to see flows go a bit lower than they are now,” said Donnelly.
Water management agencies said they’re looking into ways to avoid the river completely drying up, but are only in the preliminary stages right now. If water management didn’t step in this year, the Rio Grande could have been dry as early as July.