@USBR Launches New Basin Studies in #NewMexico and #Arizona

Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Alan Mikkelsen announced that Reclamation is launching two new basin studies. The Rio Grande Basin Study in New Mexico and Eloy and Maricopa-Stanfield Basin Study in Arizona will help inform water managers within their respective basins.

“Growing imbalances between supply and demand are impacting many basins throughout the West,” Mikkelsen said. “Through collaboration and using the latest science and data we can develop solutions that will help ensure a sustainable water supply.”

The Rio Grande Basin Study in New Mexico is focused on the Middle Rio Grande from the Colorado-New Mexico border to Elephant Butte Reservoir. The basin has been fully allocated since 1907 and future potential conditions in the basin could result in decreased water supply and quality. Reclamation is partnering with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District on this study.

The basin study will enhance existing models and data to evaluate infrastructure and operations. It will also develop strategies to improve water supply reliability and improve stakeholder collaboration and water management in an area of competing needs. Reclamation is providing $498,000 and the non-federal partners are contributing $517,000 for a total study cost of $1.12 million.

The Eloy and Maricopa-Stanfield groundwater basins in Southern Arizona encompass most of the corridor between Phoenix and Tucson. The area receives about 340,000 acre-feet of water annually through the Central Arizona Project, which is used in conjunction with more than 435,000 acre-feet of groundwater for agricultural, municipal and industrial uses. The basins also provide aquifer storage of CAP water to increase regional supply reliability. The groundwater is being overdrafted by about 230,000 acre-feet per year and is causing severe subsidence in the basins, putting critical infrastructure at risk.

The study will help water managers in the basins update existing models, bring together diverse stakeholders and the public, and develop adaptation strategies to better manage groundwater supplies with future uncertainties in Colorado River supplies. Reclamation and the non-federal partners will each contribute $680,000 for a total study cost of $1.36 million.

Reclamation is partnering with the Central Arizona Project, Arizona Department of Water Resources, Pinal County, Pinal County Water Augmentation Authority, Global Water Resources, Arizona Water Company, City of Casa Grande, City of Eloy, Maricopa Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District on this basin study.

The Basin Study Program is part of WaterSMART. WaterSMART is the Department of the Interior’s sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART. To learn more about the Basin Study Program or the projects announced today, please visit http://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/bsp.

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