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Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan Presentation. Prepared by: Terracon Livingston & Associates John Shomaker & Associates Zia Engineering & Environmental Sites Southwest. Presentation Outline. What is the Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan & Why is it Important?

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Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan Presentation

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Lower rio grande regional water plan presentation

Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan Presentation

Prepared by:


Livingston & Associates

John Shomaker & Associates

Zia Engineering & Environmental

Sites Southwest

Presentation outline

Presentation Outline

  • What is the Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan & Why is it Important?

  • Background of NM Regional Planning Efforts

  • Planning Region

  • Regional Water Plan Approach / Scope

    • Water Supply

      • Surface Water

      • Groundwater

    • Water Demand

      • Current Use

      • Projected Use

    • Water Plan Alternatives

    • Public Involvement / Outreach

    • Develop Water Master Plan Document

  • The Lower Rio Grande Water Plan and You

What is the lower rio grande regional water plan

What is the Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan?

  • The Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan is a plan to assess and quantify the water resources available to the Planning Region

  • This includes analysis of the surface and groundwater supply, demographic analysis, population projections to 2040, current water demand, projected water demand, and strategies for future management of the Planning Region's water

Why is the lower rio grande regional water plan important

Why is the Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan Important?

  • Can be used as a water resource planning tool and reference document

  • May have important implications for legal decisions

  • Maintain our agricultural heritage

  • Preserve the environment

  • Identify sustainable water supplies

  • Plan for drought

Background of nm regional planning efforts

  • The original impetus for regional water planning came in 1987 when a federal court ruled that New Mexico's prohibition against out-of-state transfer of New Mexico groundwater was unconstitutional

  • Regional water plans that were done in the past followed a diversity of approaches and used a variety of different assumptions to produce projections of water use

  • As has been done in other western states, New Mexico is developing a State water plan

  • The ISC appointed a subcommittee and volunteer work group well versed in water management issues to develop the template to guide the development of regional water plans.

  • Although a water plan for the region was completed in 1994, this plan does not contain all of the information required by the Water Planning Template.

Background of NM Regional Planning Efforts

Study area

Study Area

The study area is chiefly comprised of the area within Dona Ana County, excluding portions of the Tularosa and Mimbres Basins within in the County. The study area also includes the portion of Sierra County within the boundaries of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District and the portion of the Hueco Bolson within Otero County.

Regional water plan approach scope

Contract Tasks

  • Water Supply Study

    • Surface Water

    • Groundwater

  • Water Demand Study

    • Current and Historic Use

    • Projected Use

    • Water Budget

  • Water Plan Alternatives

  • Public Involvement/Outreach

  • Develop Regional Water Plan Document

Planning Template

  • Executive Summary

  • Introduction

  • Public Involvement

  • Strategies to Maximize Public Involvement

  • Background Information

    • Description of Region

    • Historical Overview

  • Legal Issues

  • Water Resources Assessment

    • Water Supply

    • Water Quality

  • Water Demand

    • Present uses

    • Future Uses (40 years)

    • Water Conservation

  • Alternatives

Regional Water Plan Approach/Scope

District hydrology








Bypass (spill)







Rio Grande


Deep Percolation


Imported Water

Exported Water






Bypass (spill)



Deep Perc.






Deep Percolation

ET Precip





Rio Grande

at El Paso

District Hydrology

Regional water plan water supply surface water

Regional Water Plan Water Supply - Surface Water

  • Historical Weather Data

    • Relying on existing records of the National Weather Service and NM State Climatological Office

    • In most instances, there are consistent records dating back to the mid-1940’s for the area

  • Inventory of Existing Conditions

    • Physical drainage basins - general surface hydrologic description of the planning area

    • Flow from ungauged streams - no other perennial streams, flow from all intermittent systems are captured by existing gauge networks

    • Stream gauge locations - USGS, EBID

    • Water quality impacts - minor impacts from agricultural and domestic sources. Results to date have not exceeded regulatory levels

    • Stream connected groundwater - significant ties between Rio Grande system (and irrigated lands) and groundwater supplies

Lower rio grande regional water plan presentation



Rio Grande




Main Canals



Farm Delivery/Irrigation

Return Flows

Irrigation Hydrologic Cycle: Plan View



Lower rio grande regional water plan presentation

















Irrigation Hydrologic Cycle: Profile

Regional water plan water supply groundwater

Regional Water Plan Water Supply Groundwater

  • There are four major groundwater basins in the Planning Region:

    • Mesilla and Rincon Basins

      • Important basins for economic development

      • Pumping is at the expense of the Rio Grande surface water flow

      • Recharge to the basins is via seepage from the Rio Grande and irrigation canals

    • Jornada del Muerto

      • Recharge is from mountain rainfall, subsurface groundwater flow and geothermal upwellings

    • Hueco Bolson

      • Only 3 percent is actually in New Mexico

      • Recharge is from the Tularosa Basin, mountain front recharge and minor amounts from the Mesilla Basin

Regional water plan water demand current use

Regional Water Plan Water Demand Current Use

  • Industrial

  • Mining

  • Power

  • Reservoir Evaporation

  • Fish, Wildlife & Recreation

  • Demand By Category

    • Public Utilities

    • Domestic

    • Irrigation/Agriculture

    • Livestock

    • Commercial

  • Currently, there is no domestic or public utilities reliance on surface supplies

  • There are approximately 78 Mutual Domestic and Municipal Water Supply Systems within the Plan area. The number of people served by each systems ranges from 23 people to more than 80,000

  • Irrigation/Agriculture use accounts for approximately 90% of the total current usage

  • Irrigated lands - while acreages have shown slight decreases, water demand has remained constant and in some instances, has increased due to high demand crops and multiple cropping during the year

Regional water plan water demand future use

  • 2000 census data was used for the demand projections

  • Future demand analysis reflect use categories described earlier

  • A base assumption in development of the plan is that there will be no new water supplies and the current and future water resource is finite and limited

Regional Water Plan Water Demand Future Use

  • Major future changes in use within the region are anticipated to reflect a shift for municipal usage from full reliance on groundwater to partial reliance on surface water as populations expand and groundwater reserves are depleted

  • As there becomes a need to rely upon surface water, drought impacts will become a significant concern. Therefore, contingency planning for drought periods is necessary

Regional water plan alternatives

Regional Water Plan Alternatives

  • Identify alternatives to meeting current and future demands

  • Alternatives are to address:

    • Management

    • Conservation

    • Water Development (no new sources are assumed)

    • Infrastructure Development

    • Water Quality Management

  • Alternatives are to be compared based on:

    • Technical Feasibility

    • Political Feasibility

    • Social and Cultural Impacts

    • Financial Feasibility

    • Implementation Schedule

    • Physical, Hydrologic and Environmental Impacts.

Regional water plan potential alternatives

Regional Water Plan Potential Alternatives

  • Water Shed Management

  • De-salination

  • Underground Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)

  • Reclaimed Water/ Re-use

  • Residential/ Commercial Water Conservation

  • Agriculture Conservation (EBID suggestions)

    • Installation of canal liners

    • Control of weeds in conveyance structures

    • Land leveling/ optimum tillage

    • Select/ Improve proper irrigation application measures

  • Surface Water Capture

  • Development of Deep Groundwater Supplies

  • Importation of Water

  • Use of surface water to meet human consumptive use requirements coupled with aggressive conservation and re-use strategies

  • Leasing of Agricultural Water to Municipal & Industrial Use

Tentative structure for transfers of water to special water users associations

Tentative Structure for Transfers of Water to Special Water Users Associations

Total Allotment




Agricultural Users



Water Used


Water (SWTP)

Transfer Process:





Regional water plan conservation

Regional Water Plan Conservation

  • Education and Awareness Training

    • Water is valuable

    • Low rainfall in the region

    • Depletion of potable water resources

  • Water Conservation Ordinances

    • Odd/ even water schedules

    • No water allowed to run continuously

    • Leaks must be repaired within five (5) days

  • Landscape Ordinance

    • Using recommended plants for the Planning Region

    • Promotion of underground irrigation systems

  • Rate Structure

    • Adopt a conservation-oriented waste structure

    • Increasing block rate for residential customers

Public involvement outreach

Public Involvement / Outreach

  • Intent

    • Increase public awareness of the Regional Water Plan

    • Involve local citizens and groups as stakeholders in the planning process

    • Ensure consideration of all points of view

  • Approach

    • Public Involvement Plan

    • Lower Rio Grande Water Users Organization (LRGWUO) - Technical Advisory Group/ Steering Committee

    • Public Outreach

  • Documentation and Incorporation of Input

    • Public Meeting Notes

    • Public Hearing Transcripts

    • Input summaries into key word database

    • Plan revisions to reflect input from Public Meetings

Regional water plan


consultants, Inc.


& environmental

Regional Water Plan

The lower rio grande regional water plan and you

The Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan and You!

  • Why should I get involved?

    • Water is our most important resource

    • The LRGWUO depends on your ideas to develop a plan that truly takes into account the interests of all Planning Region residents

  • There are a number of ways to get involved in the project:

    • Participate in public meetings

    • Call our toll-free: 1-866-DAC-PLAN (322-7526) or in Las Cruces call 527-1041, ask for Mary Wells (mewells@terracon.com)

    • Review the draft and final plans at selected public buildings

    • Web site @ www.lrgwuo-waterplan.com

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