The Rio Jemez Watershed can logically be divided into an upper watershed and a lower watershed based on terrain, climate, and river characteristics. Water in the upper watershed is plentiful and more than adequate to meet the water rights claims located there. However, water in the lower watershed is not adequate to meet claims throughout the growing season of April through October. Irrigation diversions use all of the available water in the river during the months of July, August, and September, often leaving the Rio Jemez a dry channel below the community of San Ysidro. This practice has negative impacts on the ecosystem by denying life-sustaining water to many lower watershed users during the hottest part of the year. The inequities in water availability in the lower watershed are not so much an issue of not enough water as they are an issue of not enough water storage. A volume of water adequate to meet all water rights claims in the lower watershed flows down the river channel during the months of April and May. However, for the remainder of the growing season, river flow is much reduced. This paper uses the concepts of sustainable development and ecosystem management to propose a solution to the water-related problems in the Rio Jemez Watershed. A strategically placed reservoir would help solve the problems in the lower watershed by evening out the flow throughout the growing season. A reservoir is proposed and three scenarios are evaluated to determine how much water is available for three equally important uses: irrigation, instream flow, and recreation. The three scenarios considered are: a maximum use scenario where all irrigators receive 100% of their water rights claims, a medium use scenario (75% of claims), and a minimum use scenario (50% of claims). After a water budget evaluation for the three scenarios, the minimum use scenario emerges as the most viable. This scenario provides irrigators with approximately double the water they are currently receiving, maintains instream flows throughout the growing season, and allows for recreational activities on the newly created reservoir through summer and early fall.
Reservoirs--New Mexico--Jemez River Watershed--Planning., Watershed management--New Mexico--Jemez River Watershed.
Krause, Tom. "Who Speaks for the Rio Jemez? A Management Plan for the Lower Jemez River Basin." (1998). http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/wr_sp/36