California may be snagging all the headlines, with Governor Jerry Brown's strict statewide water restrictions, but other states are suffering from a major drought, too. The entire West — including Texas, Arizona, and Colorado — is facing the consequences of raised temperatures, little to no rainfall this month, shrunken snowpacks (by half!), hastened evaporation, and reduced reservoirs.
The Rio Grande technically runs for 1,900 miles, stretching from southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. But as of late, farms and cities have been using up almost all of it before it even reaches El Paso — hundreds of miles from the gulf.
So, federal officials are being forced to managing the waterway for drought for a fifth consecutive year. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the annual operating plan for the Middle Rio Grande on Thursday.
The San Juan-Chama Project is a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation interbasin water transfer project located in New Mexico and Colorado. For a second year, cities that rely on San Juan-Chama water, like Albuquerque and Santa Fe, will see their allocations cut.
Like the Colorado River in the Rockies and the Sacramento River in California, the Rio Grande gets much of its water supply from melting mountain snow — and those snowpacks just keep getting smaller, faster.
The New York Times has more: