NMSU professor: Rio Grande drought is due to climate change

El Paso News

The City of El Paso is running dry on its main source of water, which some say is due to climate change.

In 1989, then El Paso Water Utility Manager Ed Archuleta predicted the city would run out of water in 2020.

Today, El Pasoans have cut down on their water usage by 35 percent per person. 

However, water levels in upstream rivers, including Elephant Butte, are only at three percent.

“I realize that we need to have the river water, when it was there, but in times of drought, we needed to have other avenues to be able to meet that,” Ed Archuleta said.

A civil engineering professor at NMSU says he’s certain these effects are due to climate change.

“What we are seeing is a systematic increase in temperature, so we’re seeing the snowmelt runoff earlier, in historical and more rapid melt than average,” Phil King tells KTSM. “And again, for a given level of snowpack, less runoff actually reaching the river and reaching our reservoir here.” 

El Paso Water is home to the world’s largest desalination plant, which gives El Paso an insurance policy against drought.

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