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Published April 25, 2012
New Mexico Reservoir Levels(data through 3/31/12)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
Total reservoir storage in New Mexico increased by 70,000 acre-feet in March (Figure 7). Storage in New Mexico’s largest reservoirs, Elephant Butte and Navajo, is about 386,000 and 1.3 million acre-feet, respectively. Elephant Butte, located on the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, is only 18 percent full and is 3 percent lower than it was one year ago. Storage in Navajo, located on the San Juan River in northwest New Mexico, is 77 percent full, much like it was at this time last year. Most reservoirs in New Mexico experienced an increase in storage in March, which is typical for this time of year.
In water-related news, the latest forecast for inflow into Elephant Butte Reservoir calls for streamflow to be only about 29 percent of average. If the forecast is correct, very little surface water will be available for farmers in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District (Albuquerque Journal, April 10). To compensate, farmers will have to pump more groundwater, which supplies saltier water that can reduce crop quality and is more expensive than using Rio Grande water.
The map gives a representation of current storage levels for reservoirs in New Mexico. Reservoir locations are numbered within the blue circles on the map, corresponding to the reservoirs listed in the table. The cup next to each reservoir shows the current storage level (blue fill) as a percent of total capacity. Note that while the size of each cup varies with the size of the reservoir, these are representational and not to scale. Each cup also represents last year’s storage level (dotted line) and the 1971–2000 reservoir average (red line).
The table details more exactly the current capacity level (listed as a percent of maximum storage). Current and maximum storage levels are given in thousands of acre-feet for each reservoir. One acre-foot is the volume of water sufficient to cover an acre of land to a depth of 1 foot (approximately 325,851 gallons). On average, 1 acre-foot of water is enough to meet the demands of 4 people for a year. The last column of the table list an increase or decrease in storage since last month. A line indicates no change.
These data are based on reservoir reports updated monthly by the National Water and Climate Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Portions of the information provided in this figure can be accessed at the NRCS website:
Southwest Climate Outlook Staff
- Michael Crimmins, UA Extension Specialist
- Stephanie Doster, Institute of the Environment Editor
- Dan Ferguson, CLIMAS Program Director
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Gigi Owen, CLIMAS Assistant Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Swetish, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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