Dec 19, 2013

Study Shows Lower Rio Grande Basin Water Supply Shortfall

Study finds shortfall of 678,522 acre-ft of water per year will be needed in basin in 2060

Bureau of Reclamation Study Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Shortfall

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor released the Lower Rio Grande Basin study that evaluated the impacts of climate change on water demand and supply imbalances along the Rio Grande along the U.S./Mexico border from Fort Quitman, Texas, to the Gulf of Mexico.

Among the findings and conclusions of the Lower Rio Grande Basin study:

  • Climate change is likely to result in increased temperatures, decreased precipitation and increased evapotranspiration in the study area. As a result of climate change, a projected 86,438 acre-ft of water per year will need to be added to the 592,084 acre-ft per year of supply shortfall predicted in the existing regional planning process in 2060, for a total shortfall of 678,522.
  • Water supply imbalances exacerbated by climate change will greatly reduce the reliability of deliveries to all users who are dependent on deliveries of Rio Grande water via irrigation deliveries.
  • The study includes an acknowledgment that all water management strategies recommended through the recently adopted regional water plan are part of a needed portfolio of solutions for the study area.
  • Seawater desalination, brackish groundwater desalination, reuse and fresh groundwater development were examined as alternatives to meet future water demands. The study found that brackish groundwater development was most suitable. Further analysis was conducted; it was found that regional brackish groundwater systems would best meet the planning objective. An appraisal-level plan formulation and evaluation process was conducted to determine potential locations of each regional brackish groundwater desalination system.