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photo: Reclamation headquarters at Elephant Butte, Rio Grande Project, 1911

Boom or Bust. Wet or Dry. Opposites such as these are a common part of life throughout the West. President Theodore Roosevelt recognized the "boom" potential and the "dry" realities of the West, and supported the establishment of the Bureau of Reclamation in 1902. Reclamation's purpose was to collect the gush of water from spring runoff and manage it to support the farmers, ranchers and others who were attempting to make the potential "boom" a reality. Water, then and now, is a matter of economics and survival.

 

 

Acequia at Velarde

Traditionally, in the area we now call New Mexico, ditch works and acequias were important engineering developments supporting agriculture and, in turn, survival of the pueblos and early Spanish settlers in an arid environment.

photo: Carlsbad Project Construction, 1906

Reclamation encouraged and supported their use, expansion, and improvement throughout the Rio Grande, Pecos River, and Canadian River valleys.

Reclamation's projects were well-regarded in an era of industrial and agricultural expansion. Rio Grande Project and Carlsbad Project were two of the first Reclamation projects authorized by Congress for this area.

 

Last updated: January 19, 2007