While concerns over a lack of surface irrigation water run high among farmers in south central New Mexico, conservationists and wildlife groups are breathing a little easier after federal officials announced this week they plan to maintain a continuous flow of water in the middle Rio Grande River, at least until mid-June.

Bureau of Reclamation officials and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released details of their annual operating plan April 23 in Albuquerque, which indicates the federal agencies will do all they can to maintain continuous flow in stretches of the river in an effort to "better serve the environment and ecology of the region."

Federal engineers plan on releasing supplemental water currently stored in reservoirs upstream to help keep the water flowing in the river. They told reporters any added surge to the flowing river would be a benefit, but warned they may need to resort to a secondary supplement, depending on the weather, specifically how much rain may fall in the weeks ahead.

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If late spring rains fail to provide any significant relief, BOR is keeping the door open on a backup plan that calls for additional pulse releases of upstream water that could benefit the spawning season of the endangered silvery minnow.