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Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
Farmer's Forecast - 2015 Irrigation Season Update
The MRGCD is off and running for 2015. All major and most minor canals have "been run", and we are delivering irrigation water.
All deliveries must be scheduled through the ISO (Irrigation System Operator), what we used to call the "ditchrider". The name change is significant. In the good old days, we filled the "ditches" with water, irrigators helped themselves to it, and the "ditchrider" casually drove along and just watched it happen. But its a new world of drought, reduced water supply, endangered species, and urbanization. The MRGCD operates canals, to carefully manage deliveries of a precious resource, to those with water rights or water leases, and who put water to beneficial use under NM State law. ISO's now receive training in canal operation, water measurement, irrigation delivery and application practices, the physics of storing water in soil, and crop water requirements. It is the job of the ISO to set rates of flow, water levels, and adjust structures. They need to know every delivery that is expected to occur along a canal, and how much water is needed to make that delivery. There is no longer anything casual about it.
The water supply situation is changing every day. The snow pack is not impressive, only in the 60-70% range in most places in the basin. But that's twice as much as we had last year. The unusually warm temperatures have melted out a lot of the low elevation snow already, and while that's not welcome news, it has had the effect of possibly allowing us some storage at El Vado. Because of that early runoff Elephant Butte reservoir has risen above the threshold that prohibits MRGCD storage. We won't store a large amount of water this spring, but it looks as if at least enough water will be stored to get through a good part of the summer. We expect some shortage in late summer and fall, but the future doesn't seem nearly as bleak as it did at this time last year. Rio Grande Compact issues are critical this year, and we must be very careful to use only what we really need, and get as much downstream to Elephant Butte as we can. It may seem foolish to some to be watching water flow downstream unused, but if we fail to meet RGC delivery requirements this year, there will be major problems for our water users next year.
Colorado irrigation diversion came on-line late last week. As a result, we will see flows through the middle valley cut nearly in half this week. We still will have enough to operate comfortably, and there is enough water for all irrigators.
From here on out everything depends on the weather. As things change we will be updating this site.
Request water when needed (several days advance notice helps us a lot) and use it wisely.
Candidates Draw for Ballot Positions
The ballot is now set for the June 2, 2015 Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Board of Directors election as candidates drew for ballot positions at the MRGCD General Offices.
10 candidates will be vying for three Directors: At-large, Valencia County and 1 of 3 seats in Bernalillo County.
The ballot will appear in this order:
||John P. Kelly
|Michael T. Sandoval
||Steve D. Gallegos
||Beverly Dominguez Romero|
||Johnny L. Paiz|
Information regarding the 2015 MRGCD election can be found here.
“Dog Biscuit Hill” Designed as Part of Rio Grande Valley State Park
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Board of Directors are honoring a former Albuquerque City Councilor and Bernalillo County Commissioner by designating the Atrisco Heading Parcel as the Patrick J. Baca Open Space Unit
. This popular access point to the Bosque is also now included as the newest 12 acres of the Rio Grande Valley State Park.
At its regularly scheduled meeting, April 27, 2015, the Board of Directors, by way of resolution, designated the parcel, locally referred to as “Dog Biscuit Hill”, in honor of the late Patrick J. Baca, a former public servant and life-long resident of the Duke City.
“It is a privilege to honor Mr. Baca and his years of dedication to the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County and the Great State of New Mexico.” says MRGCD Board Chairman Derrick J. Lente. “Now everyone can continue to enjoy our great Bosque while remembering this great man.”
The Patrick J. Baca Open Space Unit of the Rio Grande Valley State Park will be retained and owned by the MRGCD but will be maintained and managed for conservation, education, and recreation by the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division under the policies of the Rio Grande Valley State Park Management Plan and Joint Powers Agreement.
Board Chairman Speaks Up For New Mexico Farmers/Ranchers
MRGCD Chairman of the Board, Derrick J. Lente spoke at the USDA Forum Outlook 2015 in Washington, DC.
His panel discussion titled, Tomorrow's Opportunities, focused on encouraging the next generation in agriculture.
Chairman Lente was Invited by USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. (Pictured: center)
Mr. Lente proudly represented New Mexico as the only farmer/rancher west of the Mississippi River to speak at the event.
Board of Directors Sets Water Bank Lease Rates
At a Special Meeting, the MRGCD Board of Directors set the Water Bank lease rates for the 2015 irrigation season.
On a 7-0 vote, the board approved an administrative rate of $100, a water lease rate of $50/acre and a water service charge of $31/acre. These rates remain unchanged from 2014. The administrative fee can cover a 5-year period providing there are no changes by the land owner to any provisions in the Water Bank Lease.
The District will begin charging the canal system in preparation for the 2015 irrigation season, March 1.
New CEO/Chief Engineer Begins Work
New CEO/Chief Engineer, Mike Hamman, began his first day on the job at the MRGCD, January 20, 2015, ushering in a new era at the water district.
Mr. Hamman, a registered professional Engineer in New Mexico, brings 33 years of engineering and water resources management experience working primarily on New Mexico water resource development projects and issues.
Mr. Hamman comes to the District from the US Bureau of Reclamation, a federal water management agency.
Mr. Hamman replaces Subhas Shah who served as CEO/Chief Engineer of the MRGCD for 37-years.
District Breaks Ground on San Acacia Levee Project
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, along with four other governmental agencies, broke ground on the initial phase of the $287-million San Acacia Levee project.
The reconstruction of the initial six-mile stretch of levee will be constructed by Kirkland Construction out of Colorado and will involve a six-mile stretch to the east of the City of Socorro.
The re-engineered levee will now meet FEMA standards established after Hurricane Katrina and will remove Socorro residents from the flood plain.
The groundbreaking brings to a close more than 65-years of work and negotiation to reconstruct the levee from the District's San Acacia Diversion dam to three miles north of San Marcial.
The District was joined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the City of Socorro, the Interstate Stream Commission and various other dignitaries at the groundbreaking.
The guest of honor at the event was the Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Works.
Construction is due to begin by the end of 2014 and the initial construction phase will take about two years to complete.
See Video of the event here.
(Video Courtesy: USACE)
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.