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The melting snowpack of the Sangre de Cristos

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Posted: Monday, May 5, 2014 4:21 pm | Updated: 12:49 pm, Fri May 16, 2014.

When you dive into a river, stream or lake, you are really plunging into last winter’s snowfall, as this search for the headwaters 

The vitality of the Rio Grande begins with snow. The “big river” commences at Canby Mountain in the rugged San Juan range of southwestern Colorado, fed at its source by meltwater from snow. Yet something has changed with the river today. Once racing 1,850 miles to the Gulf of Mexico, today it sometimes doesn’t even reach the ocean, and it averages only 20 percent of its traditional discharge at its mouth. River-watchers warn the reason is twofold: First, overuse by cities and farms has drained the river. Second, the Rio Grande has less water coming into its drainage basin. We have less precipitation — and thus less river flow — due to an 11-year drought. It seems water is wanting at both ends.

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Today’s New Mexican, July 22, 2014

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