This paper discusses various water management issues facing federal, state, and local agencies charged with managing the water resources of the Rio Grande River Basin and its major tributaries. The Rio Grande - 3,058 km (=1,900 mi) long - is the fourth longest river in the United States. The river's basin is 870,236 km2 (=336,000 mi2) and for roughly two-thirds of its length it forms the United States-Mexican border. It is a major recreational resource providing world class trout fishing near its headwaters in Colorado's San Juan Mountains and shoreline, angling, and boating opportunities near the Colorado-New Mexico border. The Rio Grande is the principal tourist attraction of Big Bend National Park and flows through downtown Albuquerque and El Paso. Many reaches are wide and broad, but almost all are relatively shallow and not navigable by commercial ships. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important renewable water resources of the southwestern United States and North America. The issue of the "manageability" of the river in the face of social forces and disparate administrative jurisdictions that adversely impact Rio Grande flows is a thread linking various sections of the paper together. The length of the river; the fact that major reaches lie in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas; and its unique role as an international boundary pose complex management problems. The allocation status quo formed by the complex nexus of existing river laws make it difficult to reshape Rio Grande management. ?? 2009 ASCE.
Additional Publication Details
Social, political, and institutional setting: Water management problems of the Rio Grande
Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management