only irrigate this amount of acreage. For example, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
diverts, on average, 560,000 aft to irrigate approximately 50,000 acres6. The District has a farm
delivery to diversion ratio of 31% (Ibid, Table 3.8). Other districts achieve much higher
diversion efficiency such as EBID which has averaged 55% diversion efficiency. If MRGCD
were adjudicated and allowed only to divert the amount of water that it can beneficially use, with
benchmark efficiency of other districts, its total diversions would be reduced by 240,000 aft of
water - water that would be left in the river channel. This would go long ways in helping
endangered species such as the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow.
The State of New Mexico needs to expedite adjudication. It is the cornerstone to solving
our water crisis. A legitimate question is that given that we do not enforce our appropriation
doctrine, how have we gotten along over many years of drought and increasing demand for
water? The answer is that we have mortgaged our future by taking our water from limited
groundwater aquifers and from the very fragile riparian environment that surrounds our rivers.
To put it bluntly, we are sucking our heritage dry. The following two sections outline what has
happen to our groundwater and environmental water use.
New Mexico is a growing state and most of this growth is occurring in middle to large
cities. But historically, cities have appropriated very little surface water. Groundwater accounts
for 95% of the supply for public and domestic water use in the Rio Grande. This use of water is
increasing. In the middle Rio Grande, groundwater diversion for public and domestic use grew at
annual rate 3.0% between 1985 and 1995 (Wilson Brian “Water Use in New Mexico in 1985”,
6 Evaluation of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Irrigation System and Measurement Program, S.S. PAPADOPULOS & ASSOCIATES, INC. Boulder, Colorado, December 2002