Transcript for The Rio Grande, segment 03 of 9


Although the river ties them all together, the basin of the Rio Grande has five distinctive parts. Throughout history, each of these parts has been treated almost as a region unto itself.

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One of the first sections to be settled, first by Indians and later by Europeans, was in northern New Mexico. Indians have lived here for perhaps twenty thousand years. Here the pueblo Indians built their villages and raised their corn using water from the river. It was here that the first Spanish conquistadores built their missions, missions that would soon turn into growing cities.

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Water could often be drawn from the Rio Grande for irrigation or for the needs of cities. However, the river proved erratic, prone to dry up in late summer just when water is most desperately needed. Small dams on mountain tributaries could help, but more storage was needed. One big answer was the Middle Rio Grande Project built by a combination of private water users, the Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

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But the growth of New Mexico's cities did not stop. By nineteen fifty, it was apparent that more municipal and industrial water would be needed to supply the needs of cities. Thus, the San Juan Chama Project was planned and built. It would convey water into the Rio Grande basin from the Colorado River basin to be stored behind new dams.

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