Middle Rio Grande

Near Albuquerque, NM

PROJECT PARTNER: Audubon Society, New Mexico Chapter
PROJECT TYPE: Water Management Agreements


The Middle Rio Grande Flow Restoration Project partners with the New Mexico state office of the National Audubon Society to implement a first of its kind project that includes a unique partnership with Native American Pueblos and water agencies to convey and deliver much needed flows to chronically depleted areas of the Middle Rio Grande River in New Mexico. The project demonstrates a new strategy and pathway to lease, donate, and deliver water where it’s needed to benefit the river and protect and restore habitats for imperiled species. In 2016 the project aims to deliver nearly 800 acre feet of water – half of that water provided through partnership with Pueblos – to mitigate river drying and support habitat restoration and native species.

The Rio Grande silvery minnow and the Southwestern willow flycatcher are both listed species under the Federal Endangered Species Act, and even after more than a decade of efforts to address their declines in New Mexico, the species – and especially the minnow – are still at risk from river depletions and loss of flows. This project demonstrates a collaborative multi-party approach that focuses on voluntary water transactions and solutions, using water owned by Pueblos and private entities to help sustain river habitat and function. Given the critical importance of water flows and riparian habitats in the arid southwest, and growing interest in the Rio Grande basin, project partners expect this pilot to set a precedent that over time can deliver more water, more partnerships and better solutions to balance water use needs for humans and the environment.

*This resource has been reviewed and found to meet the BEF Flow Program Certification Criteria for Evaluating Proposals to Secure Environmental Flows by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.