Rio Grande running dry before Labor Day weekend
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If you had long weekend plans to spend time by the Rio Grande, you’ll have to come up with a Plan B. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District reports the river is running dry for the second time in 40 years. Last year was the first time.
“We’re out of water unless Mother Nature gives it to us,” said Jason Casuga, CEO and chief engineer for the MRGCD.
The district started using its only source of stored water in July, which is now depleted. It does not have access to the El Vado dam it usually uses to store water, because it’s under construction by the federal government until at least 2026.
“The infrastructure that we have makes the river more reliable, but we’re still bound by the amount of water that we get. And without having El Vado to store, it’s just a game changer on the river,” said Casuga.
He says there’s just enough water being produced for the six middle Rio Grande Pueblos, but thousands of non-tribal farmers could go without water until we get rain.
“We’re going to see an effect from the farming standpoint, and we’re going to see an effect from a river standpoint,” said Casuga. “Albuquerque’s not used to seeing the river this way.”
People aren’t used to it, first responders included, especially before a holiday weekend.
“I think the biggest hazard that we could potentially be looking at is going to be the drier fuels that are within these areas, and the inability for us to get our airboats to supply a response or difficulty in getting to some of these areas,” said Lt. Robert Arguelles, from Bernalillo County Fire Rescue.
Arguelles says the department prepares for river drying every season, and will have crews on standby.
“Maybe this could be a growing trend, I would hope that it’s not but you know, climate change is a legitimate thing,” said Arguelles. “And it’s just something that’s going to affect the way our local climate operates here in New Mexico.”
In the meantime, leaders ask that you pray for rain.