The Southwest will continue to see serious water shortages, with direct implications for fish and other aquatic species. Although they alter hydrology in many less desirable ways, reservoirs could serve to help by retaining water from wet years for emergency use during drought years, but there wasn't enough water left in this case.
For the first time in four decades, America's fifth-longest river went dry in Albuquerque last week. Habitat for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow — a shimmery, pinky-sized native fish — went with it. Although summer storms have made the river wet again, experts warn the drying this far north is a sign of an increasingly fragile water supply, and that current conservation measures may not be enough to save the minnow and still provide water to nearby farms, backyards and parks.
The minnow inhabits only about 7% of its historic range and has withstood a century of habitat loss as the nearly 1,900 mile-long (3,058-kilometer) river was dammed, diverted and channeled from Colorado to New Mexico, Texas and northern Mexico. In 1994, the U.S. government listed it as endangered. Scientists, water managers and environmental groups have worked to keep the fish alive — as required by the Endangered Species Act — but the efforts haven't kept pace with demand for water and climate change...
...Historically, one way to send more water into the river has been to release it from upstream reservoirs. But this year, New Mexico has been unable to store extra water because of a downstream debt it owes Texas as part of a compact. Deep into the driest period the West has seen in 1,200 years, the river wasn't replenished by rainstorms that came in June.
Read the full article at: A race to save fish as Rio Grande dries, even in Albuquerque | Don't Miss This