But engineers and BOR officials this week say they believe they can achieve their objective at least until mid-June and hope substantial rains will return when the monsoon season starts in July. Federal officials reiterated this week their intent to find ways to keep the endangered minnow species alive and encourage its recovery, even while providing as much water as required to cities and farmers.

Farmers and irrigation district officials along the river's midsection, however, say they are already planning on another year of irrigation curtailments. Many will turn again to groundwater pumping to supplement irrigation systems that generally rely on surface water from the irrigation canals that connect farm country to the river or to Elephant Butte Reservoir.


But a case before the Supreme Court brought about by legal action instituted by the State of Texas claims groundwater pumping by New Mexico famers in the mid-basin area is depleting river water that belongs to Texas. If the High Court's Justices were to rule in favor of that lawsuit, it could further complicate water problems for mid-basin farmers.

As one engineer explained at the Albuquerque meeting this week, "the only real solution is for the rains to return."