About the Initiative

Increased Demands Make Efficient Water Use a Must

The Problem

In the Rio Grande Basin, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the United States, irrigated agriculture claims the majority of the region's water. Yet, the basin's population is expected to double in the next 50 years, also doubling urban water demands. This rapid population growth, coupled with the strong agricultural industry, will further stress limited water resources already constrained by salinity and other water problems. University scientists, irrigation districts, and policymakers have identified opportunities for conserving water to increase the available supply in the basin. Research and educational efforts can help improve the efficiency of the water delivery canal infrastructure and help both agricultural and urban investigators use water more conservatively.

The Solution

In 2001, a team of Experiment Station researchers and Cooperative Extension Specialists and county agents from The Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program and the New Mexico State University College of Agriculture and Home Economics began working with local irrigation districts and other agencies, agricultural producers, and homeowners to address water issues in the Rio Grande Basin. Funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, the Rio Grande Basin Initiative focuses on efficient irrigation and conservation. The goal of the initiative is to meet present and future water demands through conservation measures that not only expand the efficient use of available water resources but also create new water supplies. The agricultural experiment stations and Cooperative Extension Services of Texas and New Mexico work hand in hand with other federal and state agencies, farmers, citizens, and local governments to conserve water in the basin.

There are nine different task areas:

Task 1: Irrigation District Studies

Task 2: Irrigation Education and Training

Task 3: Institutional Incentives for Water Use

Task 4: On-Farm Irrigation System Management

Task 5: Urban Water Conservation

Task 6: Environment, Ecology, and Water Quality Protection

Task 7: Saline and Wastewater Management and Water Reuse

Task 8: Basinwide Hydrology, Salinity Modeling, and Technology

Task 9: Communications and Accountability**