Welcome to the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
Things continue to be dry in the mountains. In spite of our hopefulness, March came and went with very little additional snowfall. The NRCS April 1 spring runoff forecast will be out in a few days, and we do not expect it to be good. At the moment the river is producing enough water, barely. It is not a lot for this time of year, but it should enough to meet the needs of all users. Scheduling is required for ALL users, no exceptions. Not all areas will have water at the same time. Please give your ISO (ditchrider) plenty of advance notice before you expect to water, particularly if planning application of fertilizer. The ISO's will know when water will be available.
Some important changes have occurred this week. Irrigation has begun up in the San Luis valley of southern Colorado. This reduces the flow to MRGCD irrigators. Also the Rio Chama Acequia Associations have begun diverting water, reducing the available supply for MRGCD users. In response, we have increased the amount of water bypassed through El Vado reservoir, and the BOR has begun releasing "minnow water", at least partially offsetting the flow we are allowing to pass undiverted through Isleta and San Acacia dams. The undiverted flow has been reduced and BOR is operating pumps at the south end of the system to maintain the required flow at San Marcial.
No real change in the storage numbers yet. About 11,000 AF of RG water has been stored so far this year in El Vado. We have about 4700 AF of San Juan Chama water currently in Heron reservoir ( I mistakenly said El Vado in the previous update). We still expect to get a the remainder of our 2014 SJC allocation (about 14,000 AF) in Heron, and at least some additional RG water in El Vado this spring.
The entire water management community (MRGCD, NMISC, ABCWUA, BOR, USACE, BIA, and FWS) is monitoring the situation very closely. Water Operations conference calls are already occurring. On a positive note, I'm happy to report that these groups are working well together to cooperate. Although the water supply situation is challenging, all understand the importance of it to MRGCD irrigators.
District Board of Directors Hosting Informational Meetings
The MRGCD Board of Directors will host three more informational meetings in April to update residents about water availability for the 2014 irrigation season along with an update on the Endangered Species Act and a report on the Rio Grande Compact Commission.
The next meeting will take place on Wednesday, April 16, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the Belen Public Library. Then, on Tuesday April 22 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. a meeting will be held at the Town Hall-Council Chambers in the town of Bernalillo followed by the last meeting on Wednesday, April 23, also from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Albuquerque at the MRGCD Board Room.
Anyone is welcome to attend any meeting.
The first informational meeting was held in Socorro County on April 8th.
MRGCD and AMAFCA Exchange Honors
At its regularly scheduled board meeting, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Flood Control Authority Board of Directors received an honor from the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, presented by Chief Engineer/CEO, Subhas Shah.
Shah presented AMAFCA Board Chairman Tim Eichenberg with a proclamation honoring the Flood Control Authority for it's 50 years of service to the Albuquerque area.
"AMAFCA" has been a good partner over the years to the MRGCD and our collaboration has benefited the Flood Control Authority as well as the Conservancy District." says MRGCD Chief Engineer/CEO, Subhas Shah. "Hopefully we can continue to work together to better the Middle Rio Grande Valley." Shah adds.
Following the award by the District, AMAFCA Chairman Eichenberg presented Mr. Shah with an award for his more than 35 years of service to the District and the people of the middle valley.
Shah announced in November his intention to step down as Chief Engineer/CEO of the District effective December of 2014. Shah will then stay on with the District in a consultative role for the next six to 12 months.
Shah Started as Chief Engineer of the District in 1977.
A Retirement and Succession Plan is Announced for CEO/Chief Engineer
Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Chief Engineer/CEO Subhas Shah and the MRGCD Board of Directors have announced the retirement and succession plan for the Mr. Shah.
Shah has served as MRGCD Chief Engineer/CEO for 36-years and will continue his employment as CE/CEO with the District until December 1, 2014. Mr. Shah has agreed to pass on his extensive knowledge of the district, gained during his long tenure, to his successor.
In his Announcement of Retirement Mr. Shah thanked those who helped him in his journey with the MRGCD, a life journey.
"I have been reflecting on how the MRGCD has profoundly changed my life. It has been a challenging career for a young engineer with no political know-how and to survive within a notoriously political agency that controls the most precious water and land resources in the State of New Mexico. My time at the MRGCD has taught me so much, and the hands-on experience is something that you can never learn in school …. believe me on that one!" said Shah. "The District has been my life. When I say “District,” I don’t mean just the ditches, dams, buildings, vehicles, and computers that make up the physical side of the MRGCD. “District” means all of you – the employees, the board members, the residents, the irrigators – everyone who has worked to keep this sliver of green oasis in the desert alive, well and thriving. YOU all have been my life and I have worked for all of you. I hope I have done a good job. "
The more than 100 people in attendance at the meeting gave Mr. Shah a standing ovation.
“Subhas Shah has been a dedicated public servant and has led the District through a period of many challenges and great changes.” says MRGCD Board Chairman Derrick J. Lente.
The District will begin the search for a replacement in the coming weeks and will take the necessary time needed to find a professional replacement for the Chief Engineer’s position.
To read Mr. Shah's entire speech, click here.
MRGCD Board of Directors Approve Changes to Water Bank Policy
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Board of Directors, by unanimous vote and resolution, has approved changes to the Water Bank Rule 23.
The proposed changes will impact current and future irrigators leasing water from the District thru the Water Bank program.
Click below for the new rules.
Water Bank Rule 23
MRGCD Board of Directors Approves Updated Water Distribution Policy
By a unanimous vote the MRGCD Board of Directors approved an updated Water Distribution Policy that takes effect immediately.
The revised regulations outline the rules for irrigators and water user within the district. These updated rules include provisions for dealing with district residents who are irrigating illegally. This includes those who do not have water rights and are not utilizing the MRGCD Water Bank, but continue to irrigate property.
At its June 25, 2012 meeting the board directed MRGCD staff to take measures to identify those who are irrigating without right and initiate appropriate action to stop the illegal irrigation. Those actions could entail a written notification to cease irrigation, locking turnouts, and/or legal action.
Click on the link below for a copy of the revised Water Distribution Policy.