Welcome to the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
Belen Water Bank Curtailment Re-instated Today
Hurricane Odile didn't do as much for us as the weather guys promised. We had moderate rain throughout the District early in the week, but since Wednesday there has been nothing north of the Socorro county line. As a result, we are re-instating the curtailment of Water Bank deliveries, effective at noon today, for the Belen Division. Cochiti and Albuquerque divisions remain curtailed as well. Socorro was the big winner from last weeks rains. There is still excess water for Socorro division. Although this will probably change soon, until further notice Water Bank users are allowed to take delivery of water in the Socorro Division.
The last of the MRGCD's stored water was released from Abiquiu reservoir on Friday morning. From here on out, we are completely at the mercy of mother nature, and what is flowing naturally in the river. At the moment, moderate flows are present. The northern two Divisions (Cochiti and Albuquerque) will probably enter "P&P" ops on Monday, limiting non-indian irrigation so that the Pueblo lands with "prior and paramount" water rights can be served. There will be water arriving at Isleta dam in excess of Isleta Pueblo's needs, and this will be diverted by MRGCD and made available to irrigators in the Belen and Socorro Divisions. There will continue to be water available through the end of the normal irrigation, but until there is more rain flows will continue to drop, and we expect to have less water to work with from here on out.
The Bureau of Reclamation began releasing additional "minnow water" yesterday, to compensate for the changes in the river that would have occurred once the MRGCD stopped releasing water from storage.
LIMITED WATER BANK DELIVERY IN SOME AREAS
Due to recent rains in the Belen and Socorro divisions, irrigation demand is reduced and both divisions report excess water available. The Rio Puerco and Rio Salado are providing inflow above San Acacia dam, and the river is reconnected through Valencia and Socorro couties. In order to make the best use of extra water and provide needed relief to Water bank users, the MRGCD is temporarily lifting the curtailment of Water Bank deliveries in the Belen and Socorro Divisions. Water Bank users should be aware that some canals are currently off due to the recent completion of a rotation, while others may be off or at reduced rates of flow to protect against arroyo inflow and flooding. Delivery in those areas may not be possible. Water Bank users do not jump to the head of the line, and previously scheduled deliveries to regular MRGCD water users along a canal will be completed prior to Water Bank deliveries. Please check with your ditchrider for water availability.
Read order lifting curtailment here
MRGCD received an additional 4000 acre-feet of SJC water yesterday, the result of depletion offsets transferred to us from the ABCWUA. This will allow us to remain in "normal" operations for a few more days. The changes noted below will now likely occur at the end of next week.
Important changes are about to occur. The MRGCD's stored water at El vado is nearly exhausted. The last Rio Grande storage was released today. There is a small amount, about 3000 acre-feet still in storage, but we are using nearly 1000 acre-feet/day. At the moment, assuming we don't get any significant rains, our storage will be completely gone late Thursday night. We will then see changes in the water entering the MRG valley at Cochiti on Friday or Saturday, and those changes will work their way down the system the early part of next week.
Initially, the upper divisions (Cochiti and Albuquerque) will need to restrict irrigation delivery to Pueblo users only, as we shift to the "P&P" operation. Belen will supply water first to Isleta Pueblo, but we do expect some return flows south of the Pueblo and that water will be available for delivery to regular irrigators. Flows in Socorro Division are already somewhat low, but we expect them to linger at their present levels for some time, and deliveries will continue more or less as normal for those at the southern end of the District.
The Bureau of Reclamation will be substantially increasing their release of "minnow water", in an attempt to keep flows at 100 cfs through the Albuquerque area, and maintain a few limited areas of habitat to the south.
In general, we have had a good run this year. We began the year with a terrible snowpack, and virtually no water in storage. Early in the season we thought we might not even get through June. The rains helped out, and we were able to stretch the reservoir supply to mid-September. Now, unfortunately, we have reached the end of our supplemental water. This does NOT mean the end of irrigation deliveries for the year. But there will be much less predictability. When it rains we will have water, and when it doesn't we will have less. The Pueblos will have priority for deliveries to their "P&P" lands. Whatever water is available after "P&P" needs have been met will be shared equally with all other irrigators. Irrigators considering fall planting should be aware that it may be very difficult, perhaps impossible, to guarantee when water will be delivered.
CEO/Chief Engineer Honored for Service
MRGCD CEO/Chief Engineer, Subhas Shah was honored by the Valencia County Commission for his service to the middle valley over the past 37 years.
The Commission recognized Shah's accomplishments by proclamation, read into the record at its September 17, 2014 meeting.
Shah has been Chief Engineer of the MRGCD since the mid 70's and has served for seven different New Mexico Governors and seven Albuquerque Mayors.
Shah is set to retire in November of this year.
Read the full proclamation here.
MRGCD and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sign-Off on San Acacia Levee Project
Representatives of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) signed a Project Participation Agreement for the San Acacia levee project.
MRGCD Board of Directors Vice Chariman, Adrian Oglesby and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Engineer, Lieutenent Colonel Patrick Dagon, signed the agreement at the MRGCD Board of Directors meeting, August 11, 2014.
The project will replace 43 miles of spoil bank levees along the west bank of the Rio Grande from the San Acacia Diversion Dam to Tiffany Junction.
The engineered levee will vary in height from 2 feet to 15 feet and will offer residents in the area protection from potential flooding. This levee will remove all residents west of the structure from the flood plane.
Total cost of the project is estimated at $287,000,000.
Barelas Has New Bosque Access
The City of Albuquerque dedicated a new pedestrian pathway from the Barelas neighborhood to the Bosque on the eastside of the Rio Grande.
The MRGCD granted the City a license to put a pedestrian and bike bridge across the Riverside Drain. With the bridge in place a walkway was built leading to Tingley Drive and into the Bosque.
The total cost the project was roughly $550,000, paid by the City of Albuquerque.
WATER BANK CURTAILED AS OF 8.11.2014
Due to low flows in the Rio Grande, Water Bank leases are curtailed as of 12:00 p.m. (noon), August 11, 2014.
MRGCD Water Bank Rule 23 contains two water cessation supply triggers (storage in El Vado Dam below 54,000 ac-ft and natural flow in the Rio Grande below 920 cfs) that, when met, require curtailment of Water Bank leases. As of today, August 11, 2014, both of those cessation triggers were met.
The MRGCD will continues to monitor river levels and flows on a daily basis.
Questions concerning the Water Bank curtailment should be directed to the General Office of the MRGCD at (505) 247-0234.
Note: The Rio Puerco has been contributing substantial flow to the Rio Grande above San Acacia dam for several days, resulting in an unusually large bypass through the dam. Water Bank Deliveries will continue to be permitted in the MRGCD Socorro Division as long as these excess flow conditions persist.
Read the curtailment memo here.
Board of Directors Approves FY15 Budget
The MRGCD Board of Directors approved the budget for the 2015 fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014 and running to June 30, 2015.
The budget was approved on a 5 to 2 vote and includes a 5% increase in the ad valorem mill rate and a $3.00/acre (10.7%) increase in water service charge.
Links to the approved budget and budget resolution are below:
FY15 Budget Revenue (Approved)
FY15 Budget Expenses (Approved)
FY15 Budget Resolution
Questions concerning the budget should be directed to the MRGCD General Offices at 1931 Second St., SW, Albuquerque, NM or by phone at (505) 247-0234.
MRGCD Involved in Five-Point Water Conservation and Management Plan for Valley
Key governmental jurisdictions and agency leaders, including representatives from the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, recently completed a series of roundtable discussions that have resulted in a study and plan to Maximize the Water Supply of the Middle Rio Grande Valley.
The discussion and subsequent water plan, are the result of Senate Memorial 8, sponsored by State Senator Michael Padilla and passed by the New Mexico State Senate during the 2013 legislative session.
The plan outlines five significant ways to maximize the water supply in the Middle Rio Grande Valley.
MRGCD staff participants in the roundtable discussions included Chief Engineer, Subhas Shah; Hydrologist, David Gensler; Assistant Engineer, Ray gomez; and MRGCD Directors, Adrian Oglesby, Karen Dunning and Eugene Abeita.
A complete copy of the Senate Memorial 8 water plan may be viewed at the following link:
Maximizing the Middle Rio Grande Water Supply
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.