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Reclamation signs Record of Decision on Rio Grande Project Operating Agreement

Media Contact: Mary Carlson , 505-462-3576,

For Release: January 05, 2017

Albuquerque, N.M. – Bureau of Reclamation Upper Colorado Regional Director Brent Rhees signed a Record of Decision today, paving the way for continued implementation of the Rio Grande Project’s 2008 Operating Agreement through the year 2050.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement released by Reclamation in September analyzed environmental impacts associated with continued implementation of the 2008 Operating Agreement through 2050. The Operating Agreement describes how Reclamation allocates, releases and delivers Rio Grande Project water to the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in New Mexico, the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 in Texas, and to Mexico. The FEIS also evaluated environmental effects of a proposal to renew a contract to store San Juan-Chama Project water in Elephant Butte Reservoir.

The FEIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and is a step toward resolving longstanding legal disputes over Rio Grande Project operation. Of the five alternatives considered, the second was selected. It includes continued implementation of the operating procedures as defined in the 2008 Operating Agreement and corresponding Rio Grande Project Water Operations and Accounting Manual through the year 2050. Under this alternative, Rio Grande Project allocation and accounting procedures would continue to include the diversion ratio adjustment and carryover accounting as established by the 2008 Operating Agreement. Reclamation is deferring its decision on a contract for storing San Juan-Chama project water in Elephant Butte Reservoir.

The FEIS concludes that future projected climate change will likely have greater effects on water resources and related biological resources than any of the alternatives.

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