Water conservation

State agencies tout water conservation in Lower Rio Grande

By Mike Cook

This summer, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (NMISC), in conjunction with the Las Cruces District IV regional office of the Office of the State Engineer (OSE), will host a series of online public outreach meetings to inform farmers in the Lower Rio Grande region on how to apply for grants that will compensate them for choosing to leave their land fallow instead of pumping groundwater to irrigate crops, OFE and NMISC said in a press release .

Online meetings will be held from 10:30 am to 11:30 am on Thursday, July 29; 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 3; and from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, August 5. Visit www.ose.state.nm.us and click on hot topics for more information.

The meetings are part of a pilot groundwater conservation program “to help our states and water rights owners better understand the physical impacts of reducing groundwater pumping,” said the engineer. ‘State John R. D’Antonio. “This program is essential for the future management of the aquifers of the Lower Rio Grande at sustainable levels,” he said.

Public awareness is part of the NMISC’s implementation of the state’s 50-year water plan, the commission said.

“Low reservoir levels and persistent drought are just two of the many water-related challenges facing OSE and NMISC in our state,” the agencies said in a press release. However, none are deeper than the ongoing dispute with Texas over the availability of water in the Lower Rio Grande. While this dispute goes through the courts, there is no doubt that New Mexicans must working together to maintain the productive aquifers of the Mesilla and Rincon valleys.

“In view of the decline of these regional aquifers – since the signing of the 2008 operating agreement between the Texas Irrigation District, the federal government and the Elephant Butte Irrigation District Board – it is imperative that New Mexico continues to work with local entities to establish groundwater conservation. practices that will help maintain aquifer levels for the purpose of a water source and drought reserve for years to come, ”D’Antonio said.

The Las Cruces-based Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID) “is already implementing most of the measures discussed in the plan for decades,” said EBID director-treasurer , Gary Esslinger, in a statement.

“The district and its agricultural producer members began planning and implementing water management measures over 100 years ago and continue to this day,” Esslinger said. “Their planning and other actions have continuously proven to be effective techniques for water management.

“When New Mexico’s 50-year water plan was first enacted in 1987, EBID was one of the first to submit and receive acceptance for its regional plan,” said Esslinger. “The district began to study and implement sustainable improvement and conservation programs a long time ago and continues to develop new approaches and methods.

“Over 30 years later, EBID is still working, not only to plan, but to implement projects that meet both legal obligations and the pressing need to conserve and protect water resources during frequent droughts. regional.

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