Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Kim Greenwood, 505-462-3557
October 22, 2004
Frank Quimby, 202-208-7291
Secretary Norton Praises Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District for Water 2025 Collaboration

$1.3 Million Grant to Improve Water Management


ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico --Interior Secretary Gale Norton today lauded the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District for its efforts to improve New Mexico's water system, including securing a $1.3 million Water 2025 grant from the Bureau of Reclamation. The District will match the grant for a total of $2.6 million.

"The Water 2025 project we celebrate today is the result of the work of Senator Pete Domenici and Representative Heather Wilson's leadership in Congress and our joint commitment to making Water 2025 work for the benefit of New Mexico," Norton said. "Efforts like these are essential if New Mexico is to protect its economy, its agriculture, and its environment as it deals with the reality of drought."

The Water 2025 grants, administered by Reclamation, are providing local irrigation districts throughout the West with matching funds to support a variety of projects to make more efficient use of existing water supplies through water conservation, efficiency, and water marketing projects.

The projects funded under this grant should reduce the need for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District to release water from upstream storage, potentially extending the available water supply in drought years. Water not diverted by the District could be retained in upstream storage, providing the District with additional storage to meet future demands.

The project will improve and modernize irrigation facilities to increase water conveyance efficiency, reduce system losses due to seepage and evaporation, and improve water management in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. System improvements include replacement of turnouts and old gates, concrete lining of canals, telemetry and measurement devices, and automation. The Water 2025 project also will develop a computer system that can manage hundreds of gates while providing system information on the internet that other water agencies can use for managing flows of the Rio Grande.

"Water 2025 is not about imposing solutions from Washington," Norton said. "Rather, the initiative is founded on the principle that states, tribes, and local governments should have the leading role in meeting our future water challenges while the Department of the Interior focuses its attention and resources on areas where scarce federal dollars can provide the greatest benefits to the West and to the Nation."

"Water 2025 helps New Mexicans to control their destiny by providing them greater control over their water," Norton concluded.

With its endangered species issues, population growth and drought conditions, the Middle Rio Grande Valley was designated a "hot spot" -- one of the most critical areas to be addressed - in the Water 2025 Initiative launched last year.

Over the last few years, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District has been able to reduce its diversions from the river while cooperating with other state and federal agencies, using its project facilities to help meet the required flows for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. The District's participation in the Water 2025 Initiative reinforces its commitment to become efficient and modernize its 80 year-old facilities.





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