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surveyed New Mexican opinions about instream water, indicate a willingness to pay $80

annually per household to maintain minimum instream flow and the riparian environment along

the river bank of the major rivers of New Mexico. How much water is required to maintain eco-

systems is subject to much debate, but some persuasive estimates can be derived. We examine

the case of Rio Grande Bosque.

The Bosque riparian habitat is a complete foliage cover for the land area adjacent to the

river. The Rio Grande Bosque is defined for purposes of this report as the riparian habitat

between the flood levies of the Rio Grande from Cochiti Dam and San Acacia. A GIS survey of

this area estimated this land area to 37,300 acres. The consumptive use of the Bosque per acre

per annum has been estimated by the US Bureau of Reclamation, Albuquerque Area Office as

43.79 inches (3.65 acre feet)5. Applying this consumptive use value to 37,300 acres results in a

136,145 aft total quantity of water beneficially used. In addition to the consumptive use, a

continuous stream flow particularly around San Acacia is required to keep indigenous species

such as endangered silvery minnow alive and well. An informal estimate to maintain a

continuous flow at 15cfs is 30,000 aft of consumptive water use over what is regularly used by

the river.

The Barrens group at UNM has estimated the value of maintaining a riparian

environment at $80 annual per household ($55 for riparian environments in general and $25 for

the endangered species such as the minnow). For the approximately 210,000 households in the

upper Rio Grande Basin (above Elephant Butte), Table 15 indicates the value of water used for

preservation of the Bosque and a minimum instream flow. Total annual value of maintaining

5 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Report. Middle Rio Grande Water Assessment – Estimates of Consumptive Use Requirements for Irrigations and Riparian Vegetation, Table 11.

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