The snow that falls in the Rockies’ Sierra Sangre de Cristo range holds water during the winter months, slowly releasing water over the spring and summer months into the tributaries and aquifers that feed the Rio Grande basin. As the climate continues to warm, the ability of the Rio Grande basin to replenish itself may become increasingly threatened as snow-pack decreases and evaporation rates increase. Past droughts and environmental catastrophes are archeologically preserved in the ruins of ancient southwestern cities such as Chaco Canyon and serve as dire warnings of what may occur in a dryer climate. As the Southwest prepares for population growth and increased water scarcity, Albuquerque and El Paso’s stories illustrate how the destinies of all the communities in the Rio Grande valley are intertwined.
Padilla, Matthew. “The Thirsty Rio Grande: Sustainable Water Planning Along the Rio Grande in the Age of Global Warming.” Sustainable Development Law & Policy, Winter 2008, 71-72.