Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering

Advisor 1

Alex Mayer

Advisor 2

Veronica Webster

Committee Member 1

David Gutzler


The Middle Rio Grande is a vital source of water for over 2M people. Climate change is impacting regional hydrology and is likely to put additional stress on a water supply that is already stretched thin. To gain insight on future water availability, a simple water balance model was used to simulate the Elephant Butte-Caballo reservoir system (Southern New Mexico, USA). The water balance model was run under 97 climate simulations derived from Global Climate Models (GCMs) developed under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 5th generation Coupled Modeling Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Results suggest that the percentage of years that water rights allocations are fulfilled over the next 50 years (2021-2070) will decrease compared to the past 50 years (1971-2020). The modeling also projects an increase in multi-year drought events. In most cases, headwaters flow from snowmelt is projected to have a greater influence on water availability downstream of Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs than local evaporation and precipitation from the reservoir surfaces.