Resolution of the Board of
Directors of the
Middle Rio Grande
Conservancy District
Adopting Revised Rule
No. 23 – Water Bank Rules

There are no changes to the Revised Rule No. 23 Water Bank Rules except in the
appendix; to see the full document, please go to our website at The Board of Directors will be adopting the appendix to the water bank rule effective at the start of the irrigation season on April 1, 2021.


Water Bank Curtailment:
Minimum Required Stream Flow, Storage, and
Rio Grande Compact Status

As provided in the Water Bank Rules attached to this table, delivery to MRGCD water bank users may be curtailed under certain conditions. Curtailment can occur based on the rates of natural flows in the river, the amount of water in storage for irrigation use, and Rio Grande Compact Articles VI, VII and VIII conditions. Based on an analysis of these three variables the general rule being followed is that curtailment should be expected when the natural flow of the Rio Grande drops below a level at which the MRGCD can no longer deliver water to all users within its system, supplemental storage is insufficient to complete the irrigation season, and/or Compact restrictions are impacting storage options at El Vado Dam. Under these conditions of limited water supply, water will be directed preferentially to irrigators who have not sold their pre-1907 water rights or who are relying on water rights of the MRGCD for irrigation. It should be noted that this table is generic in scope and is designed to provide general information regarding circumstances likely to result in curtailment. However natural flow sufficient to meet all users’ needs varies not only from year to year, but also throughout the course of the irrigation season. Curtailment should be expected in any year, and possibly the entire year, when New Mexico is in an accrued debit status according to the articles of the Rio Grande Compact.

Stream Flow Conditions
Resulting in Curtailment

The following schedule defines the natural flow requirement below which curtailment of water delivery to water bank leases could be expected:

Start Date End Date CFS
1-Mar 31-Mar 390
1-Apr 15-Apr 550
15-Apr 30-Apr 780
1-May 15-May 900
16-May 31-May 950
1-Jun 15-Jun 950
16-Jun 30-Jun 1030
1-Jul 15-Jul 1050
16-Jul 31-Jul 1000
1-Aug 15-Aug 920
16-Aug 31-Aug 850
1-Sep 15-Sep 660
16-Sep 30-Sep 600
1-Oct 15-Oct 410
16-Oct 31-Oct 310

This schedule defines the required natural flow in terms of cubic feet per second (CFS). The natural flow is calculated as the daily average of the combined total of flow as reported by USGS gauges for the following sites, less 100cfs (excluding March) to allow for consumptive use by the Rio Chama Acequia Association and main-stem users above Otowi, NM

Rio Grande at Embudo, NM (USGS # 08279500),
Rio Chama Near La Puente, NM (USGS # 08284100)
Rio Ojo Caliente at La Madera, NM
(USGS # 08289000)
+ Rio Jemez below Jemez Canyon Dam, NM
(USGS # 08328750)
Average Middle Rio Grande Inflow – 100 cfc
Natural flow

USGS Gauge information can be accessed online at:

Storage and Compact
Conditions Affecting

MRGCD may allow continued delivery of water to Water Bank leases at times when the natural flow is less than specified above. This can occur if MRGCD has sufficient supplemental water in storage to augment the natural flow of the Rio Grande for all users, with an expectation that sufficient water is present in storage to provide for all irrigators through the remainder of the current irrigation season. Reasonable expectations of sufficient supplemental water in storage to permit continued supply to Water Bank leases are described in the following schedule 1 of supplemental water in storage at El Vado/Abiquiu reservoir as of the listed dates, and available for use in the then current irrigation season. Further restrictions may apply whenever New Mexico is in an accrued debit status, as defined in Article VI of the Rio Grande Compact, and whenever NM is required to retain water in storage in upstream reservoirs equivalent to that accrued debit, required sufficient storage levels to allow Water Bank delivery ( as listed above) shall be increased by the amount of water required to be stored as a result of the RGC debit water status.

All Water Bank deliveries will be curtailed whenever NM does not have native Rio Grande water retained in storage greater than or equal to the amount required by Article VI of the Rio Grande Compact. Whenever NM is in an accrued debit status, both the streamflow and minimum storage requirements3 described in the previous sections must simultaneously occur before Water bank delivery may be allowed

March 1: 91,000 AF2
April 1: 91,000 AF2
May 1: 91,000 AF2
June 1: 91,000 AF
July 1: 89,000 AF
August 1: 54,000 AF
September 1: 20,000 AF
October 1: 1000 AF

1 MRGCD San Juan-Chama stored in Heron Reservoir may be included in the calculation for any one year, on conditional on water supply presented to and approved by the MRGCD Board of Directors.

2 Potential storage – In the early part of the season, storage may be noted as potential, so that the specified volume of water may not need to actually be present, but it is anticipated to be result from snow melt runoff in the spring. The MRGCD must have physical space available to store this water and snowpack must be present to make it likely that the space will be filled before June 1 of the year in question. The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services monthly New Mexico State Basin Outlook Reports will be used to determine the likelihood of acquiring that storage, based on the 70% “chance of exceedance” value for El Vado Reservoir Inflow, March-July.

3 Should Article VI of the RGC be in effect, the required storage volumes shown in the schedule will be increased by the amount of NM’s accrued RGC debits to the lower Rio Grande users. As provided in Article VII of the Rio Grande Compact (RGC) storage will not be allowed if Elephant Butte contains less than 400,000 acre-feet of “usable water”, unless MRGCD has acquired sufficient RGC storage of “relinquishment” credits to permit storage.

Exceptions for Water Bank Use Under Curtailment

Water Bank leases may be issued by the MRGCD, but only if they provide that no Water Bank water can be delivered so long as New Mexico is in debit status under Article VI of the Rio Grande Compact. Delivery of water to a Water Bank lessee may be allowed if a) the water delivered is not water bank water, b) if and when the water bank lease is paid, an Alternate Curtailment Location (ACL) is specified and determined by the District to be acceptable. If the above conditions a) and b) are met, the Water Bank Lease fee and administrative fee will apply, but no water service charge will be assessed for Water Bank land as it was already paid at the ACL parcel.

An ACL is acceptable to the District only if the WSC for the ACL has been paid and is up to date, and only if all other District assessments have been paid and if the ACL is irrigated and cultivated land which would receive water normally from the District if not specified as an ACL and only if the water user agrees that the ACL will not receive water from any source, including groundwater, throughout the entire calendar year.

Evaluation of Local or
Transient Flow Condition

Even though the above guidelines provide parameters for stream flow and storage, the Water Bank Rules recognize conditions may occur at certain points within the District which would make it possible to deliver water to MRGCD Water Bank leases even though the natural flow and supplemental storage schedules indicate otherwise. Under these conditions deliveries to Water Bank leases would be the result of local conditions, often transient, which would provide additional water supply or reduce the demand on water supply for some users. These conditions could include, but not be limited to, precipitation in certain areas of the MRGCD, tributary inflows (i.e.: AMAFCA diversion channels, or Rio Puerco /Rio Salado), unusually cool temperatures or high humidity, a cessation of deliveries to portions of the MRGCD due to physical constraints (such as a major ditch break), or other causes. In some cases, these could affect the entire MRGCD service area, or in other cases could affect only limited areas. These will be evaluated by MRGCD if and when they occur, with the intent to maximize the beneficial use of water by irrigators within the MRGCD system, regardless of water right or water bank status. However, Compact debit status will remain as a variable that may limit uses of transient water availability.

Published in the El Defensor Chieftain on March 11 & 18, 2021