Pecos River Basin - National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
Summary of Carlsbad Project Water Operations and Water Supply Conservation Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission NMISC is a co-lead agency with the Bureau of Reclamation in preparation of the Carlsbad Project Water Operations and Water Supply Conservation Environmental Impact Statement (Ops EIS). The purpose of the EIS is to disclose the potential consequences of proposed changes in Carlsbad Project operations and the implementation of a water acquisition program in the Pecos River basin.
What is the need for changes in Carlsbad Project operations?
In 1987, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the Pecos bluntnose shiner (shiner) as a federally threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and designated two noncontiguous river reaches as critical habitat. In 1989, the Bureau of Reclamation tested the newly built Brantley Reservoir (located downstream of the shiner’s habitat and current range) by performing a 58-day block release. The safety test triggered consultation with the FWS on river operations effects on the shiner. The result of the consultation process was a jeopardy opinion by FWS, in 1991. After the jeopardy opinion, the Reclamation began re-operating the river to conserve the shiner, but did not undertake NEPA analysis on the re-operation. In 2002, Forest Guardians sued Reclamation for failing to complete formal consultation under ESA and failing to complete NEPA procedures. Reclamation began the NEPA process later in 2002 by filing the Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register.
What is the need for a water acquisition program in the Pecos River basin?
Reclamation has elected to keep the Carlsbad Project water supply whole. Without an accompanying program to acquire and provide water to the Carlsbad Project, the re-operations will result in additional depletions to the Project water supply. The NMISC supports Reclamation’s decision to keep Carlsbad Project water supply whole. The NMISC believes that keeping the Project whole is essential for ongoing Compact compliance.
What is the schedule for the Ops EIS to be completed?
Draft EIS to public: September 1, 2005
Public comment period:
September 1 – October 31, 2005
Final EIS to public: June 1, 2006
Record of Decision: August 1, 2006
Summary of Long-term Miscellaneous Purposes Contract Draft Environmental Impact Statement
The NMISC is a joint-lead agency with the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) in preparation of the Long-term Miscellaneous Purposes Contract Environmental Impact Statement (MP EIS). The proposed action necessitating this EIS for Reclamation is intent to enter into a long-term (40-year) contract with the Carlsbad Irrigation District (CID) to use Carlsbad Project water for purposes other than irrigation and for Reclamation to approve any related third-party contracts that may be necessary. The EIS discloses any potential environmental consequences of implementing the proposed action.
What events occurred that necessitated completion of an EIS?
In 1948, New Mexico and Texas entered into the Pecos River Compact. In 1974, Texas filed a lawsuit against New Mexico for under-delivery of water required by the Compact. In 1988, the Supreme Court entered an Amended Decree, which appointed a federal River Master and established an accounting method to verify the apportionment of Pecos River flows between New Mexico and Texas. The NMISC began leasing Project water in 1992 as part of its Water Resource Conservation Project designed to comply with the Compact and Amended Decree; the leasing has continued through the present and currently operates under a short-term miscellaneous purposes contract. In 2003, the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, NMISC, Reclamation, CID, and the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District entered into a Settlement Agreement to resolve the Project phase of the Lewis Case, implement a plan to ensure delivery of water to the CID and state line, and settle many water management issues on the Pecos River. The Settlement Agreement requires that Reclamation and the CID enter into a long-term miscellaneous purposes contract that would allow the NMISC to use Project water for miscellaneous purposes, other than irrigation, specifically for delivery to the state line to aid in compliance with the Amended Decree.
What is the purpose and need for this proposed action?
The purpose of the Proposed Action is to allow the use of Project water for purposes other than irrigation.
The proposed long-term miscellaneous purposes contract and any related third-party contracts would address
three primary needs along the Pecos River. The NMISC needs to:
- Use up to 50,000 acre feet per year of Project water for purposes other than irrigation, specifically for state line delivery to maintain compliance with the Pecos River Compact
- Maintain long-term compliance with the Pecos River Compact and the United States Supreme Court Amended Decree in Texas v. New Mexico
- Partially fulfill requirements of the Pecos River Settlement Agreement which the NMISC, CID, Reclamation, and other parties executed in 2003.
What is the schedule for MP EIS to be completed?
Draft EIS to public: November 3, 2005
Public comment period:
November 3, 2005 – January 6, 2006
Final EIS to public: May 10, 2006
Record of Decision: June 23, 2006