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New Mexico Science

Science, climate, weather and water from a New Mexico perspective

Managing the plumbing that is the Rio Grande

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There’s some pretty remarkable water knob tweaking underway on the Rio Grande right now as water managers juggle drought supplies to try to keep the river flowing through Albuquerque.

Flows from Colorado are declining rapidly as farmers there begin their irrigation season. That’s resulted in flow dropping on the main stem of the Rio Grande, which you can see at the Embudo gauge:

Embudo, courtesy USGS

Embudo, courtesy USGS

Meanwhile on the Chama, managers are compensating by releasing water from Abiquiu Reservoir:

Abiquiu, courtesy USGS

Abiquiu, courtesy USGS

So far, they’ve gotten the timing right. At Otowi, downstream of the confluence of the Rio Grande and Chama, the flow is holding steady:

Otowi, courtesy USGS

Otowi, courtesy USGS

That means they’ve gotten the timing right so far. The result is that, through Albuquerque, flow in the river should stay relatively stable for the near term.

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