17 Facts About Rio Grande


Rio Grande, known in Mexico as the Rio Bravo del Norte or simply the Rio Bravo, is one of the principal rivers in the southwestern United States and in northern Mexico.

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Rio Grande with its fertile valley, along with its tributaries, is a vital watersource for seven US and Mexican states, and flow primarily through arid and semi-arid lands.

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The Rio Grande then continues southwards, irrigating the farmlands in the Middle Rio Grande Valley through the desert cities of Albuquerque and Las Cruces in New Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, and then to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, in Mexico.

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Sedimentary basins forming the modern Rio Grande Valley were not integrated into a single river system draining into the Gulf of Mexico until relatively recent geologic time.

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The upper reach of this river corresponded to the modern Rio Chama, but by 5 million years ago, an ancestral Rio Grande draining the eastern San Juan Mountains had joined the ancestral Rio Chama.

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Ancestral Rio Grande progressively integrated basins to the south, reaching the Mesilla Basin by 4.

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Archeological sites from the earliest human presence in the Rio Grande valley are scarce, due to traditional Indigenous nomadic culture, Pleistocene and Holocene river incision or burial under the Holocene floodplain.

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The upper Rio Grande valley was characterized by occasional periods of extreme drought, and the human inhabitants make extensive use of gridded gardens and check dams to stretch the uncertain water supply.

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In 1536, the Rio Grande Bravo appeared for the first time on a map of New Spain produced by a royal Spanish cartographer.

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Since 1848, the Rio Grande has marked the boundary between Mexico and the United States from the twin cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, to the Gulf of Mexico.

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The 1938 Rio Grande Compact provided for the creation of a compact commission, the creation of gaging stations along the river to ensure flow amounts by Colorado to New Mexico at the state line and by New Mexico to Elephant Butte Reservoir, the water once there would fall under the regulation of the Rio Grande Project which would guarantee provision to Texas and Mexico.

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Two portions of the Rio Grande are designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, one in northern New Mexico and the other in Texas, at Big Bend National Park.

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Water of the Rio Grande is over-appropriated: that is, more users for the water exist than water in the river.

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MRGCD has requested storage of "native water" downstream at Abiquiu Reservoir, which normally only stores waters imported into the Rio Grande watershed from the Colorado River watershed via the San Juan-Chama Project.

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Dams on the Rio Grande include Rio Grande Dam, Cochiti Dam, Elephant Butte Dam, Caballo Dam, Amistad Dam, Falcon Dam, Anzalduas Dam, and Retamal Dam.

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Large diversions for irrigation below Rio Grande City reduce the river's average flow to 889 cubic feet per second at Brownsville and Matamoros.

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Much of the time since water rights were introduced in the 1890s, the Rio Grande flowed through Las Cruces from February to October each year, but this is subject to climate change.

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