Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Cynthia Stokes

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The Lower Rio Grande basin is located in south-central New Mexico, an agriculturally significant region with an increasing population. Available water supply is used for irrigated agriculture, public water supply systems, commercial purposes, livestock watering, domestic wells, power generation, and industrial and mining purposes. Over time, consumptive use of irrigated water has increased, and the regional population is expected to grow. These increases in demand could put unsustainable stress on the limited supply of water in the Lower Rio Grande. For this project, climatological and agricultural data were analyzed to determine if the growing season had lengthened since 1892, and it was shown that consumption of irrigated water by agriculture has increased in the Lower Rio Grande since 1953. Additionally, data from the climate and agriculture analyses were organized into a Geographical Information System and a geospatial representation of crop requirements was offered. In response to extended drought conditions and increasing demand, the New Mexico Legislature passed legislation to allow the State Engineer to more timely administer the States water resources. This prompted the State Engineer to initiate a strategy named Active Water Resource Management. It is designed as a set of tools necessary to conduct priority administration; however, specific information is missing, and the Lower Rio Grande Water Master cannot perform his duties with the tools currently available to him. The geospatial tools presented at the end of this project will offer the Water Master a tool by which to monitor water use in the Lower Rio Grande.

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Lower Rio Grande basin, irrigated water, water consumption, growing season, Active Water Resource Management


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico.