In New Mexico, water is life. El Agua es vida.
When a child in Albuquerque turns on the tap and drinks a glass of water, it most likely originates in the headwaters of the San-Juan Chama region of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. This same water provides life for an elk on a ridge top, an aspen in the forest, irrigation from the acequias, and vital fish habitat in the Rio Grande.
Historically, the headwaters of the San Juan River naturally flowed west into the Colorado River. However, in 1971, a portion of this water was diverted through the tunnels of the San Juan – Chama Diversion Project into the Rio Grande basin, and eventually all the way down to Albuquerque. The San Juan – Chama Diversion Project supplies water for nearly a third of New Mexico’s population.
Our land, trees, wildlife, culture and people are all connected through water. In order to protect New Mexico’s vital headwaters – and the forests that keep them safe – private landowners and key partners launched the San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership.
This community-based partnership is working to increase the resiliency and ecosystem health of the watershed. The same private landowners that helped start the partnership also manage much of the land that supplies the San Juan – Chama diversion waters. This is a unique opportunity because these landowners directly manage their lands with forest health, agriculture, wildlife, and watershed resilience in mind.
Increased drought, wildfire, insects and water shortage, threaten these critical headwater forests. Post-fire flooding events destroy agricultural production and affect the volume and quality of New Mexico’s water supply.
The San Juan – Chama Watershed Partnership is working to protect New Mexico’s source waters and the communities that rely on them.
We are enhancing water quality, fisheries, local businesses, and recreational opportunities in the rural communities of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico through:
1. Sustainable forest management practices that include thinning and prescribed burning.
2. Utilization of woody biomass from forest treatments to create jobs and energy through a local and sustainable bioenergy industry, and
3. Riparian restoration and agricultural efficiency projects to get the most out of each drop of water.
From Pagosa Springs, Colorado to Albuquerque, New Mexico, we hold the future of the forest and water in our hands.
Our vision of productive forests and watersheds is stewarded by a diverse community working together for a common goal. This is the San Juan-Chama Watershed Partnership.