Water Conference Underscores Water Challenges

Those attending the 43rd Annual New Mexico Water Conference in Las Cruces in October likely came away with a better understanding of a host of problems facing the Lower Rio Grande, a sense of the magnitude of the issues, and an awareness of the dissension surrounding these problems.

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For example, conference speakers described how the Rio Grande Compact is being attacked from various sides including environmentalists who served notice earlier this year that they intended to sue to reopen the Compact so that it will provide a specific water allocation to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Meanwhile, one Pueblo has informally approached the subject of reopening the Compact to provide additional water use for the Indians the Rio Grande Compact specifically exempts Indian tribes from its provisions. Most would agree that reopening the 1938 Compact would be akin to opening Pandora’s box.

Other water controversies facing the Lower Rio Grande include the state’s right to manage its water without federal intervention, how to best deliver water to Texas as required by the Rio Grande Compact, and how to transfer water from agricultural to municipal use.

Robert Faubion described to water conference tour participants how his irrigation filtration system works.

A complete text of all conference speakers’ comments is being prepared for the conference proceedings, which should be available in the spring. Check WRRI’s Home Page for a notice of the proceedings publication.