Middle Rio Grande Abiquiu Flow Restoration
For almost two decades, extensive efforts have been made in an attempt to address the decline of the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and other federally listed endangered species found in New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande. Gains have been made through habitat restoration and fish population management, but these efforts are incomplete without more comprehensive solutions involving water management and reestablishing flows—particularly in time of drought.
Given the critical importance of water flows and riparian habitats in the arid southwest, and a continued interest in the Rio Grande basin, new strategies and pathways to lease, donate, and deliver water to benefit the river and protect and restore habitats for imperiled species, while balancing human needs, are essential.
The Middle Rio Grande – Abiquiu Flow Restoration project will also demonstrate the potential for conveying, delivering, and monitoring flows to alleviate dewatering issues in key reaches of the river.
Audubon Society of New Mexico, has established a series of summer flow transaction projects that will release water stored at San Juan-Chama. In concert with other strategically planned environmental water deliveries, this will be help provide riparian and/or in-river benefits in the Middle Rio Grande that will mitigate environmental impacts of drought and low flows.
Unique to this project is the leveraging of one of the first-ever applications to New Mexico’s Office of the State Engineer to set the stage for portfolios of water rights to be protected and delivered to enhance environmental flows and habitat in the Middle Rio Grande. This will play a key role in transforming water rights management and water delivery in the state by establishing the administrative, logistical and cooperative framework to deliver water to protect and restore critical instream and riparian habitats of the Rio Grande, over the long-term.
* Project supports voluntary transactions to change, reduce or stop water use – either temporarily or permanently – to protect or restore water for environmental benefit