The Rio Grande Basin is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the United States, with irrigated agriculture claiming more than 85 percent of its water. However, population growth in the Basin is expected to double in the next 50 years, also doubling urban water use.
The Basin's agricultural crop industry, comprised principally of cotton, grain sorghum, grapefruit, chilies, pecans, citrus, sugarcane and vegetables has an economic impact of more than $1 billion annually. By investing in improvements in irrigation conveyance systems and efficient on-farm water use, both urban and agricultural interests can benefit from increased water availability and resulting economic enhancements.
Conservation of urban and agriculture irrigation water is a key to sustaining social, economic and environmental development in the Rio Grande Basin of Texas and New Mexico. To help agricultural producers, urban landscapers and irrigation districts achieve the needed conservation, in the past few years Congress has appropriated funds for targeted research and Extension activities in the basin, to be administered through USDA-NIFA. In response, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service (NMCES), Texas AgriLife Research and New Mexico State University (NMSU) Agricultural Experiment Station (NMAES), are working together to increase available water through efficient irrigation and water conservation. They also work with local irrigation districts, agricultural producers, homeowners and other agencies to address water issues.