An agreement approved by the Elephant Butte Irrigation District lets farmers sell water rights so the water can be used to help grow riverside vegetation such as cottonwoods and Goodding's willows.
The deal is the largest New Mexico example to date of a growing effort across the western United States to reclaim water for riverside environments.
Under the agreement, the International Boundary and Water Commission will buy enough water from farmers to irrigate up to 500 acres of Rio Grande riverside habitat.
The water will support planting of cottonwoods, willows and other native vegetation that has long been absent from a stretch of river channel between flood control levees that has primarily been used as a water delivery channel for decades.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.