Click the link to read the guest column on The Albuquerque Journal website (Bruce Thomson). Here’s an excerpt:
Probably the most feasible option for bringing water from the Mississippi River basin would be to transfer water from Lake Sakakawea, a huge lake on the Missouri River in North Dakota, to the middle Rio Grande. The distance from Lake Sakakawea to the middle Rio Grande is approximately 1,000 miles. More importantly, it’s located at an elevation of 1,800 feet above sea level which greatly reduces pumping requirements.
A recent study done by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources suggests that water supply in the middle Rio Grande will decrease by about 30% over the next 50 years. That deficiency is approximately 300,000 acre-feet per year…Transferring 300,000 acre-feet of water from the Missouri River during six months of high flow each year, requires a flow of 830 cubic feet per second, similar to today’s flow in the Rio Grande at Albuquerque. This is far too much water for a pipe – it requires a canal 25 feet wide and eight feet deep. To pump this water, 650,000 horsepower or 500 megawatts of power will be needed. This is roughly half the power generated by a single unit at a nuclear power plant…
Transporting water from North Dakota to New Mexico would involve a canal that passes through or near seven states; North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Bringing water from Louisiana to the Colorado River will require passing through or near Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Each of these states face serious water shortages. It is inconceivable to imagine that each of them won’t demand a proportionate share of water passing over or near their lands.
We must recognize that multistate interbasin transfers quickly become impractical when factoring in the water demands for all participants. The volumes of water in the Missouri River, Atchafalaya River and other North American rivers are large, but they are nowhere near sufficient to meet the demands of the arid West. We simply need to learn to live with what we’ve got, accept the fact that future shortages are inevitable, and then manage this most precious resource wisely and equitably.
Bruce Thomson, Ph.D., P.E., is a research professor in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and in the Water Resources Program at the University of New Mexico.
4 thoughts on “Importing water to #NewMexico? Challenges are stunning — The Albuquerque Journal #MissouriRiver #RioGrande”
A sensibility check is required here. Does the author realize the how close eastern Wyoming is to this water source? The same state that is demanding water from the Green River watershed? Oh yeah that diversion would be longer and have obvious consequences. To New Mexico? Why not give an even worse distance to justify his premise. Instead think like an engineer? Ship the water to Colorado east and they could turn off the on going diversion from the Colorado River watershed! No pipelines needed to increase water supply to the Colorado River!
There’s two types of educated people you would hate to be locked up with !, An engineer and a life insurance salesman.
Maybe New Mexico should look at managing water more effectively? For example, start by banning pecan farming which is actually increasing, when it should be deterred.
Thanks for commenting.
As long as a property owner is conducting a legal operation it would be a taking to ban pecan farming. Private property rights are strong in the law. Elect folks that will author and pass legislation that promotes the environment over private property rights. Also, discuss climate change and how the economics of infinite growth are driving extinctions.