Reclamation to Begin Releases of San Juan-Chama Water to Contractors

Media Contact: Ken Maxey, (505) 462-3542

For Release: June 20, 2003

The Bureau of Reclamation announced that it will begin releasing water from Heron Reservoir. These releases, which began today, will meet Reclamations obligations to the contractors of San Juan Chama water.

The City of Albuquerque and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) have the largest allocations of San Juan-Chama Project water. Albuquerque is expected to store its water for future use in its drinking water project, and the MRGCD is expected to use its share for irrigation deliveries this year. These releases will also benefit the city of Santa Fe and other San Juan Chama contractors.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decided on June 12 to uphold an earlier court decision directing the Bureau of Reclamation to give priority to water deliveries for the silvery minnow at the expense of farms and cities. This decision stated that Reclamation had the discretion to use San Juan Chama project water for the silvery minnow, an opinion that is a major setback to the collaborative process that has been working to help the minnow not only survive, but recover.

Reclamation will continue to monitor river and storage conditions, and seek water from willing sellers through cooperative means to meet the needs of all users.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.