Sabot L'ours (sabotlours) wrote,
Sabot L'ours

A Hydrology Lesson

My trip up to Chama yesterday was pretty uneventful. The weather was gorgeous and it was nice to get out and hike around. The purpose of the trip was to plan out where to install some new instrumentation on one of our dams. I get comments from folks who like it when I talk about hydrology, so here is a brief history of the San Juan Chama Project (SJC).

New Mexico is part of the Colorado River Compact since it has 2 major tributaries of the Colorado River passing through, the Gila to the south and the San Juan to the northwest. The Compact divvies up the water between all of the states that have waters of the Colorado. New Mexico is entitled to some, but where the rivers flow are not really all that conducive to agriculture. The SJC takes water from tributaries of the San Juan and diverts it under the Continental Divide into the Rio Grande Basin. That's the primary reason for my job. I have to keep this imported water accounted for in a completely different manner than the native Rio Grande water.

The SJC water is primarily stored in Heron Reservoir which is where I went yesterday. It was constructed on a tributary of the Rio Chama which is a major tributary of the Rio Grande. Only SJC water can be stored in this reservoir so I am currently making a fairly substantial release to get rid of the early snow melt runoff that would be considered Rio Grande water.

So now you know a little bit of the Rio Grande system. ABQ will be using their share of the SJC water beginning this year as the city's primary source of drinking water. So be nice to me or I will pee in the river!

Here are a few pics.
Rio Chama below the dam

At the toe of Heron Dam looking into outlet works

Heron Reservoir with just a little bit of ice still remaining
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