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Open-file Report - 577
New Mexico Universities Working Group on Water Supply Vulnerabilities: Final report to the Interim Committee on Water and Natural Resources

Janie Chermak, David S. Gutzler, Peggy Johnson, J. Phillip King, Lee Reynis, Gwnedolyn Aldrich, and Michael O'Donnell


This Working Group was funded by the State Legislature in 2014 to: (1) assess the current status of water supply and demand after years of severe drought in New Mexico; (2) put the current drought into long-term context with reduced surface water, groundwater depletions, and economic activity; and (3) develop a list of vulnerabilities and promote policy strategies to mitigate these vulnerabilities. Funding for the Working Group uniquely and directly involves researchers from all three research universities in New Mexico, and includes both water and social scientists. We report here on findings generated in Fiscal Year 2014-15, during which we focused on the Lower Rio Grande, which is heavily affected by extremely low water storage in Elephant Butte Reservoir. We have compared the current drought situation with the historical drought of the 1950s, examining hydroclimatic changes that have occurred over the past half-century, which impact surface water and groundwater supplies, and the economic and social impacts of the 1950s and current droughts.

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