Protect the Rio Grande – revive America’s Great River
A River Stretched Beyond Its Means
The third-longest river in the United States, the Rio Grande is vital to the history of the desert southwest. It is, literally and figuratively, the lifeblood of the region. Like any living thing, the Rio has a pulse. When that pulse dies, those who depend on the Rio as an ecological, cultural, and economic engine suffer.
The Rio’s pulse is dwindling for a variety of reasons. People take more water from the river than the river has to give, something that archaic water law continues to allow. Dams and other infrastructure, meant to stretch water supplies further, inhibit the river’s snowmelt-driven spring flows. And climate change spells disaster for the Rio and those who depend on it.
Studying and restoring the Rio’s flows; tearing down dams and other obstacles that sabotage these flows; and rethinking water storage will help to revive America’s Great River. The Rio has no time to lose.
The Rio Grande is in Crisis
Nearly 30 years after the silvery minnow was listed as endangered in 1994, this once-abundant fish hovers perilously close to extinction. While federal, state, and local agencies have been working to protect and recover silvery minnow populations for decades, critically low population levels show that new solutions are desperately needed.
Sign our petition reminding the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which are in violation of the Endangered Species Act, to reassess how mismanaged projects on the Rio Grande are impacting threatened and endangered species.
What We’re Doing
Let It Flow
Restoring flows to the Rio Grande
We are advocating for a long-overdue study of flows necessary to protect landscapes, geology, recreational opportunities, and fish habitat in the Rio Grande gorge from the Colorado-New Mexico state line through Taos. Read our vision.
Tear It Down
Remove or modify dams and other obstacles to flow
We are litigating to ensure that unnecessary infrastructure—including dams, levees, and other man-made obstacles—does not prevent large-scale restoration of the Rio and its vast floodplain in the Tiffany Basin south of Socorro, New Mexico. Read the release.
Rethinking the Rio
Reconsider water storage in the river
In a recent report, we found that 50,000 acre-feet (in a dry year) and 85,000 acre-feet (in an average year) of water could be conserved if the water stored in the river’s low-elevation reservoirs was instead stored upstream. This would provide significant flexibility to connect river flows when the river needs water the most. Read the report.
How You Can Help
Help revive and restore rivers and all the species that depend on them! Be a guardian for rivers by joining the conversation, learning about current issues, and making your voice heard. Together, we're a powerful force for nature.
Rio Grande Waterkeeper
A purposeful partnership between WildEarth Guardians and Waterkeeper Alliance, Rio Grande Waterkeeper protects and restores flows in the iconic Rio Grande to ensure life is sustained throughout the Basin for generations to come.
Photo: Adriel Heisey
WildEarth Guardians works to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West.
Waterkeeper Alliance and its member organizations work to protect swimmable, drinkable, and fishable waterways throughout the world.
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