MRGCD Conservation Program News

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About the MRGCD’s Conservation Program

What is the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District’s Conservation Program?

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District’s (District) Conservation Program (Program) is a comprehensive effort which aims to increase the District’s resilience to variable water supply, and to address new challenges faced by water users.  The Program will benefit constituents by advancing efficient water delivery and use, soil health and sustainable agriculture, increasing the dependability of water supply for irrigators while supporting our bosque, riverine habitat, and species conservation.  Working with irrigators on soil health and irrigation practices could improve infiltration and availability of water and nutrients for crop productivity.  A guiding principle for the Program is that sustaining healthy agriculture in the middle valley is crucial to maintaining a healthy Rio Grande ecosystem.

Why is a Conservation Program Needed?

Water has always been a critical resource in New Mexico.  The District’s experience over the past twenty-five years has brought into focus the limited nature of water and its vulnerability to changing conditions.  A growing population and concern for ecosystem and species health have placed additional challenges on our water supply.  The Conservation Program is needed to ensure that the District is in the best possible position to meet those challenges and protect our ability to deliver water to water users.  While meeting the irrigation needs of our constituents remains our first priority, the District must also manage water supply for Rio Grande Compact deliveries and endangered species conservation obligations.  This challenge can be particularly severe when stored water in El Vado Reservoir is insufficient or unavailable to supplement flows in the Rio Grande.  The Conservation Program is intended to complement other District efforts to manage water and lands in a way that maximizes benefits to all our constituents.

What Activities Fall Within the Conservation Program?

  • Water delivery system efficiency improvements.
  • On-farm irrigation efficiency improvements.
  • Improvement to irrigation scheduling and water delivery practices.
  • Technical and financial resources to support productive agriculture and efficient water use.
  • Voluntary water leasing within the District’s service area through the District’s water bank to promote innovative and successful farming, ecosystem health and species conservation.
  • Habitat restoration and development to improve the effectiveness of species conservation.

Pilot programs began in 2020.  The program is overseen by the MRGCD’s Board of Directors with an appointed Advisory Committee from within the District that meets monthly.

What are the Benefits of the Conservation Program?

The Conservation Program further enables the District to effectively manage available water for the benefit of its constituents and operational priorities, which can be seen as a triangle.