A dry 2011 on the Rio Grande

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Based on a preliminary assessment from the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, 2011 was the driest year since 2003 on the Rio Grande, with roughly 550,000 acre feet of native water passing the Otowi Gauge between Santa Fe and Los Alamos. The Otowi number, which does not include water imported to the basin through the San-Juan Chama diversion, is used to set New Mexico’s Rio Grande Compact delivery obligation at Elephant Butte Reservoir, which in turn helps determine how much water is available for downstream irrigation. But that calculation will be complicated this year by litigation over how the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation calculated Elephant Butte storage in 2011.

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