Bienvenidos! Welcome! My name is Filiberto Cortez, Manager of the El Paso Field Division of the Bureau of Reclamation in El Paso, Texas. Our office, together with the Elephant Butte Field Division of the Bureau of Reclamation, manage, direct, and operate the Rio Grande Project.
The Rio Grande Project is one of Bureau of Reclamation's (Reclamation's) oldest irrigation projects. The Rio Grande Project was born out of conflicting interests for the limited supply of water within the Rio Grande Basin of southern Colorado, New Mexico, and far west Texas. Internationally, the Rio Grande serves as the political boundary between United States and Mexico beginning in El Paso, TX. Mexico shared the same concerns for this limited water supply as the United States, and in 1903, just one year after Reclamation was created by the U. S. Congress, investigations began on a storage facility and irrigation project that would satisfy the U. S. and Mexico needs for a water supply for irrigation.
TheRio Grande Project was authorized by the U. S. Congress on February 25, 1905, and eventually Elephant Butte Dam & Reservoir was built as well as four diversion dams, 139 miles of main canals, 457 miles of laterals, and 465 miles of drains. On May 21, 1906, United States and Mexico signed a treaty which provided for the equitable distribution of Rio Grande waters for irrigation purposes such that Mexico would receive 60,000 acre-feet (AF) annually from the water supply of the Rio Grande Project. In 1936, Caballo Dam & Reservoir was added as another feature of the Rio Grande Project, and it provided flood control as well as irrigation purposes. In addition, another diversion dam was built to further satisfy the equitable distribution of Rio Grande waters between the U. S. and Mexico, and a power plant was added to Elephant Butte Dam. Finally, with the signing of the Rio Grande Compact in 1938, the waters of the Rio Grande in the UnitedStates above Fort Quitman, Texas were apportioned between the States of Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Both Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs play an integral role in the division of waters between the three States.
Almost 100 years of water resources history have occurred on the Rio Grande Project spanning two U. S. States and two countries, and Reclamation continues to work with the major water users of the Rio Grande Project (Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1, and Mexico) to efficiently deliver water for irrigation while promoting the wise use of the water resource through conservation efforts. Reclamation also continues to promote creative ways to utilize the Rio Grande Project water supply for other purposes, such as: 1) The 1920 Act for the Sale of Project Water for Miscellaneous Purposes, which has allowed the City of El Paso, TX to acquire a surface water supply to meets its population growth, and become less dependent on diminishing groundwater supplies; and 2) The creation of a minimum pool at Elephant Butte Reservoir to ensure continued recreational activities, even during extended drought years. However, it is the daily flow of Rio Grande Project storage from Caballo Dam that feeds the life of the valleys of the Rio Grande Project - irrigation. Major crops such as chile, pecans, and cotton continue to support vibrant economies in the towns and cities of southern New Mexico and far west Texas.
Please take a few moments to browse our web site. I hope you will find the Water Operations data of the Rio Grande Project useful and helpful. Our collection of photographs illustrate the major facilities and features of the Rio Grande Project. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions concerning the Rio Grande Project or other items you would like to see posted on our Web site, please fill out the comment page and E-Mail it to us, or telephone us with the numbers provided.