Adapting to Long Term Water Shortages in the Lower Rio Grande River Basin
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Abstract only available. For over 10 years, the water supply in the Lower Rio Grande River Basin has been at historic low with no end in sight. This is affecting Texas' most intensively irrigated region, the Lower Rio Grande Valley located at the Southeast tip of Texas, as well as the adjoining areas in Mexico. Population and industrial growth in this border region is expected to continue to fuel increased water usage in these sections. Irrigation districts who have historically enjoyed nearly unlimited water supply are being forced to adopt water conservation practices and programs. The situation has also prompted serious regional water planning efforts as well. This paper will provide an overview of the water supply situation in the Lower Rio Grande River Basin including past, present and future projections and recent funding initiatives through the NAD Bank and US Congress, and Mexican government to support irrigation scheme rehabilitation. The paper will also detail the other dramatic changes in district operations, including mandatory metering, water fines and incentives, and facility renovation. The irrigation districts were successful at getting approval from Congress for funding of a small number of projects. The paper reviews the types of projects implemented so far and evaluates how well they meet the objective of meeting continued water shortages. Some problems have already occurred with questionable project design and construction, raising the question about a need for standards. The economic evaluation of these projects will also be discussed and reported in terms of project cost per volume of water saved. The need for a regional approach to irrigation scheme rehabilitation planning will also be examined. Copyright ASCE 2005.
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