Climate Change

While there still remain some pockets of dispute, both science and our experience show that the world's climate has been warming significantly over the past half century.  Greater quantities of "greenhouse" gasses (carbon dioxide and methane) in the atmosphere appear clearly to be the cause.  Increased evaporation from warmth  accounts for diminishment of available water supplies.

Posts - Any technical papers, data, opinions, announcements, etc. that relate to this Climate Change issue appear just below.

New Mexico Headed to (Water) Bankruptcy Court?

By Executive Committee | March 10, 2021

The State Constitution requires the State to balance its annual budget, which prevents financial bankruptcy. However, the State is hurtling towards water bankruptcy in many of the State’s distinct hydrologic regions.

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Middle Rio Grande Plain Truths–Please Email Senate Finance Committee Members

By Norm Gaume | March 9, 2021

2021 will bring a wake-up call that will be hard to ignore. We must pivot to cooperatively face our existential water supply issues. The days and years of reckoning are upon us.

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Water Advocates–Outreach to ISC Re: Water Planning

By Executive Committee | February 18, 2021

Water Advocates comment publicly regarding the NM Interstate Stream Commission’s water planning study session. The comments identify essential elements of a meaningful NM water planning process.

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Pursuing Water Equity for Underserved Communities

By Theresa Cardenas | February 10, 2021

Pursuing water equity is a moral project. Addressing water equity is often absent from conversations about the sustainability of our water resources. It is unfortunate not all of the important issues facing water challenges revolve around water quality. There is broad consensus that equity refers to just and fair inclusion–a condition in which everyone has the opportunity to participate and prosper.

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Rio Grande Basin Study is Moving Forward

By Executive Committee | December 5, 2020

The Rio Grande Basin Study is beginning to feel more tangible. Over sixty people attended Reclamation’s quarterly “All Partners” meeting held Dec. 4. After a presentation on in-progress climate assessment research and a coming agricultural adaptation workshop, the discussion focused on the detailed draft plan for the three-year …

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Planning for water scarcity and our changing climate

By Executive Committee | November 27, 2020

Interstate Stream Commission members agree the need for effective water planning is urgent. Yet two years into this administration, the staff is not yet focused on “helping New Mexicans plan for water scarcity and a changing climate.”

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State Water Actions Urgently Required

By Norm Gaume | November 15, 2020

Leadership and unprecedented actions are needed to prevent a Rio Grande Compact violation in 2021. Serious water planning can no longer be neglected. The legislature is requested to take five actions.

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Nearly Half of the U.S. Is in Drought. It May Get Worse.

By Executive Committee | October 31, 2020

The New York Times published an article on October 15 “Nearly Half of the U.S. Is in Drought. It May Get Worse.” Nearly half of the continental United States is gripped by drought, government forecasters said Thursday, and conditions are expected to worsen this winter across much of the Southwest and South. Mike Halpert, deputy…

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A Climate Crossroads With 2 Paths: Merely Bad or Truly Horrific

By Executive Committee | October 3, 2020

The New York Times has published “Climate Disruption Is Now Locked In …” an extensive article addressing our options moving forward. While said about climate change, two quotations stand out and are directly applicable to water issues in New Mexico: “There’s too much complexity and, frankly, too much that needs to be changed, that we’re…

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We welcome postings on this or other water-related issues from interested parties.  Please email your posts, preferably in Word format, to the Editorial Board at

Description of the Issue

Planning, Policy, and Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change will reduce the water supply for the Middle Rio Grande, requiring that we adapt to less water.  Focus on this fact is essential.

New Mexico's Annual Average Temperature has Increased 3 Degrees Farenheit since 1970. Source: New Mexico Tech, Earth Matters, Summer 2020 Edition

Dr. David Gutzler, one of New Mexico’s internationally renowned climate change scientists, testified for an hour at the introductory meeting of the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee on January 17, 2019.  His summary:

My plea is that we need to modernize water policy in New Mexico as best we can and as equitably as we can but in recognition of a changing climate in which surface water supplies are diminished across the state.  I think we have no choice but to do that.  Please don't ignore what is happening with the supply of water in our state and what is likely to happen in the future.

It’s better to plan than to get thrown under the bus.  Sooner is better than later.

Increased temperatures and other climate change impacts have and will continue to reduce snowpack and snowmelt runoff, cause earlier spring runoff, increase evaporation losses and evapotranspiration from crops and the bosque, and lead to more intense storms.


The New Mexico Political Report on July 3, 2020 published A river runs dry: Climate change offers opportunity to rethink water management on the Rio Grande.   The article addresses climate change challenges to our water supply and the opportunity we have to take a hard look at what we want and to make changes.

The New Mexico Bureau of Geology's Earth Matters  Summer 2020 issue is entitled New Mexico’s Climate in the 21st Century: A Great Change is Underway.  A very readable article by Dr. David Gutzler presents the science of climate change-caused reductions to New Mexico's surface water supplies that are already underway.  One summary excerpt:

A Time of Change in New Mexico

We have just described potential 21st-century changes that exceed the bounds of climate variability ever experienced by humans in the Southwest. Some of the projected changes are well underway—rising temperature, diminished snowpack, and earlier snowmelt runoff. There is nothing abstract or hypothetical about human-caused climate change in New Mexico. It’s happening now. Other projected changes, such as diminished total flow in our major rivers, are not yet easily detected but are still projected to occur later this century, when long-term changes exceed natural variability.

Advocacy Projects

All three advocacy projects of the MRG Water Advocates are directly related to planning for and adapting to climate change reductions to our surface water supplies.

The Rio Grande New Mexico Basin Study will provide a range of forecasts of our future water supply under climate change.  It will also use computer models to simulate the effectiveness of water management alternatives to adapt to a reduced water supply.

The Middle Rio Grande Water Advocates believe it is essential that we begin effective water planning in the Middle Rio Grande to evaluate alternatives and select steps that we must implement if our climate change adaptation is to minimize the disruption that we face.

The Agency/Water Report card will evaluate and call attention to Middle Rio Grande progress and deficiencies.