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Rio Grande Project Operations


Rio Grande Operating Agreement Environmental Impact Statement


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The Bureau of Reclamation is preparing an environmental impact statement for the proposed continued implementation of the 2008 Operating Agreement over its entire remaining term (through 2050) for the Rio Grande Project in New Mexico and Texas.

The operating agreement is a written detailed description of how Reclamation allocates, releases from storage, and delivers Rio Grande Project water to users within the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in New Mexico, the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 in Texas, and to users covered by the 1906 international treaty with Mexico. In addition, the EIS proposes to evaluate the environmental effects of renewing San Juan-Chama Project storage contracts under authority of the December 29, 1981 Act, Public Law 97-140, 95 Stat. 1717, providing for storage in Elephant Butte Reservoir.

Current Status:   Reclamation filed a Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS in the Federal Register on January 15, 2014. Three public scoping meetings were held:

  • Thursday, January 30, 2014 - Albuquerque, N.M
  • Friday, January 31, 2014 - Las Cruces, N.M.
  • Saturday, February 1, 2014 - El Paso, Texas

Public Comments were due by February 14, 2014.

 NEPA Scoping Summary - Continued Implementation of the 2008 Operating  Agreement for the Rio Grande Project, New Mexico and Texas   [PDF]
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 Federal Register Notice of Intent - Jan. 15, 2014  [PDF]
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 Public Scoping Materials  
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For more information on the EIS contact:  Rhea Graham @ 505.462.3560 - 555 Broadway NE, Suite 100, Albuquerque, N.M. 87102-2352


 

Background

The Rio Grande Project is one of the most complex projects managed by the Bureau of Reclamation. The project not only delivers water to irrigation districts in Texas and New Mexico, and municipalities in Texas, but also ensures that the requirements of the 1906 Treaty with Mexico and the Rio Grande Compact between the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Texas are honored. The authorization of the project in 1905 and some of the construction predate New Mexico’s statehood.

Elephant Butte Dam, the largest reservoir in New Mexico, was put in service in 1916 to store irrigation water for about 155,000 acres in both New Mexico and Texas, and for delivery of 60,000 acre-feet in a full allocation year to Mexico. Caballo Dam was completed in 1938 to increase conservation storage and provide flood protection. In addition the construction of Caballo Dam made it possible to generate power at Elephant Butte Dam. Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoir provide a total of 2.3 million acre-feet of conservation storage.

The Rio Grande Operating Agreement was signed in 2008 by the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 and Reclamation to resolve an almost 30 year, long-standing dispute over operations and to comply with contracts which transferred the ownership and operation and maintenance to the two districts.

The main points of the agreement are:

  • The allocation to the project water users is based on the all project water in storage.
  • Each district may carryover unused water allocation year by year and accumulate an account of up to 60 percent of a full allocation.
  • When one district reaches their 60 percent limit on carry over allocation the remainder will be placed in the other district’s allocation account if that district has not reached its limit.
  • Mexico's allocation will be made using the D-1 regression curve and total releases made for the year, including any release for delivery of carry over water.
  • EBID’s and EP#1’s allocations will be made using the D-2 regression analysis curve.
  • EBID will provide a portion of their allocation to offset a reduction in the release to delivery ratio in providing the delivery at the headings of the two districts and Mexico.
  • EBID will benefit from increases in the diversion ratio as a result of return flows, usable flood inflows and ground water accretions in New Mexico.

Reclamation remains committed to working with all of our partners on the Rio Grande Project. We have all encountered challenges through the last century in operating this project but through our valued partnerships, we have reached solutions such as the Rio Grande Compact and the 2008 Rio Grande Operating Agreements.

Reclamation provides the information below in order to demonstrate some of the complexities we have encountered in operating the Rio Grande Project and provide access to the public to the documents which are used in the operations of the project.

General Information
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Last updated: August 1, 2014