The Pecos River - historically, biologically, hydrologically and economically - is important to the future of the entire Pecos River Basin and the Rio Grande. The Pecos provides approximately 9.5 percent of the annual inflows to the International Amistad Reservoir, a major source of drinking and irrigation waters for the lower Rio Grande Valley and its millions of residents. However, the river also contributes an estimated 26 percent of salt loading to the reservoir annually, periodically causing salinity levels to approach the maximum drinking water standard.
The Pecos River winds more than 800 miles through semi-arid and arid landscapes of eastern New Mexico and West Texas and is crucial to many communities, mainly for irrigation, recreational and environmental use and recharging underlying aquifers.
The Pecos was once a critical source of water in the Trans-Pecos region of the state, providing early settlers with abundant water to irrigate crops and water livestock. Today, the river's flow has dwindled to a trickle in some areas, its salinity is so high that its use for irrigation and livestock watering is limited in many instances, and dissolved oxygen (DO) levels in portions of the river do not meet Texas' water quality standards. The reduced quality and quantity has also harmed the river basin's biodiversity.
Through the Watershed Protection Plan Development for the Pecos River project, a watershed protection plan (WPP) was developed that addresses watershed concerns, impairments and resource management issues. The WPP was developed using scientific data gathered throughout the course of the project along with information and guidance from watershed landowners. The WPP was completed and distributed to watershed landowners in December 2009. Concurrently, two separate projects were initiated to implement portions of the Pecos WPP.