Albuquerque

Warmer climate affecting New Mexico rivers and basins – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico 2021-10-20 21:48:31 –

Albuquerque, New Mexico (AP) —Federal water managers said on Wednesday that water shortages could widen in the Pecos River basin, New Mexico, as well as other watersheds in the western United States, as temperatures continue to rise over the next century. I warned.

The U.S. Pioneer Department discussed recently completed findings study During the virtual briefing in the basin, he said the goal of the work was to better understand the threat of climate change to the region’s water supply. Authorities also considered what tools could be used to develop resources that would help maintain viable agriculture over the next century as the challenges grow.

Dagmar Llewellyn, Reclamation Study Manager, said these challenges are important. She explained that the Pecos River basin is dry with a limited, highly variable water supply.

“Drought and climate change-induced desiccation is already underway in the basin,” she said. “We have less snowfall at the headwaters, more rainfall in winter, and higher consumption rates within our agricultural systems.”

The peak flow of snowmelt spills into the Santa Rosa Reservoir at the top of the system was only a small amount of about 5 cubic feet per second this year. The total volume during the spill was about 700 acre feet, one-56th of the historical average. This meant less water for downstream users.

About 80% of the water in the basin is used for agriculture.

Other concerns include having enough water in the system to support endangered species and fulfilling delivery obligations to Texas users as part of a water sharing compact and court settlement. ..

Rather than worrying about predictive uncertainty about the future, this study focused on a series of stories about how the basin evolves. Water managers then imagined how water usage would change as a result.

“We are not really trying to address the issue of uncertainty or find the most probable future,” Llewellyn said. “We want to see how we behave, how we use water, how we change our infrastructure, and how we operate under a variety of potential future conditions. We are developing these various sandboxes that you can play with. “

Many factors were incorporated into the model used in the study, from consideration of under-irrigation and endangered species to water emissions in Texas.

Authorities said future supply declines do not necessarily mean reduced agricultural production. Other programs such as improving irrigation and infrastructure, using more greenhouses, changing the types of crops grown, and water banking may be used to offset the decline in supply.

Some irrigation districts have already made changes. Fort Sumner is equipped with a real-time flow meter and automatic headgate. Other agencies are working to collect more data to support future decision making.

Authorities acknowledged that population growth in Roswell, Carlsbad, and other communities along the Pecos River in eastern New Mexico could impact future demand, but the study found domestic wells and theirs. Did not assess potential changes.

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