Defining Water

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Via John Fleck is this Santa Fe New Mexican article that puts some great perspective on the state’s peak water woes:

New Mexico’s water math isn’t adding up. Real water plus paper water are supposed to equal water supply, but it doesn’t, especially during drought.

Real water: That’s wet water, the stuff one needs for drinking, washing clothes, growing food, building houses and cooling power plants.

Paper water: The piece of paper that says how much real water someone has the legal right to use.

The problem: New Mexico has more paper water than real water.

The result: Someone is going to go thirsty.

This has to be taken into consideration when entities are divvying up water. This might also be of particular concern for residents in southwest New Mexico in regard to the Arizona Water Settlements Act.

Gila River Watershed Improvement Plan and Strategy

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I haven’t had time to even start poring over this document, but the New Mexico Environment Department in conjunction with Northern Arizona University recently released this report. Why?

This Watershed Improvement Plan and Strategy (WIPS) is an inventory and data resource in support of a science-based approach to watershed resource planning. Watershed remediation work to improve deteriorated conditions is often supported by federal funds made available through Section (§)319 provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This WIPS is a required component in New Mexico to securing §319 non-point source pollutant grant funding through the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New Mexico Environment Department (NMED; 2006b).

The file is huge — 276 MB (!) — and you’ll need to download the latest Acrobat Reader (version 8) just to open it, but the table of contents looks like there’s a lot of great information (including sections on watershed geography and conditions) and maps for you technophiles:

Gila Watershed

Don’t all of you download it at once — I like my server up and running.