Rio Grande River basin: The river is in trouble this year from stem to stern

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Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right and check out the Rio Grande basin. The river is in trouble this year from stem to stern. Here’s a report from Matt Hildner writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“It’s really in tough shape after this winter,” said Cindy Villa, a range specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. While scattered portions of the valley may be in decent shape because of a high water table or exceptional weather, the majority of the 1.3 million acres of private range land is in either severe or moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The National Weather Service’s monitoring station in Alamosa recorded only 10.5 inches of snowfall this winter. That total, which is 21 inches below average, ties the winter of 1999 and 2000 as the third-driest on record…

Gary Snell, who oversees the grazing programs for both federal agencies in the valley, said the main concern if conditions don’t improve would be a lack of drinking water for the herds if creeks and springs run dry at lower elevations.

From National Public Radio (John Burnett):

Standing on a sand bar spawned by the drought conditions, Texas Parks and Wildlife official Randy Blankinship points to where the Rio Grande should empty into the Gulf of Mexico — but no longer does. “It looks like the mouth of the Rio Grande is about 100 yards from the Gulf,” he says. “It comes about 100 yards short of its destination.” This is just one symptom of what is becoming the longest drought on record, surpassing even the devastating dry spell of the 1950s.

Bobby Sparks grows cotton and grain sorghum in the Rio Grande Valley, at the southern tip of Texas. When well-watered, locals brag, this soil grows the sweetest grapefruit and the juiciest melons on the planet. But seven years of drought has cost millions of dollars in crop losses, and left the farmers dispirited, Sparks says: “We’ve got people talking about retiring, talking about selling out, putting up mobile home parks… anything to generate money. They realize water is never gonna be here like it used to be.”

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here.

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