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Published August 21, 2013
New Mexico Reservoir Volumes(data through August 7, 2013)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
Combined water storage in the 15 New Mexico reservoirs reported here was 16.5 percent of capacity and only 36.6 percent of average as of July 31 (Figure 7). New Mexico total reservoir storage decreased by 16,000 acre-feet in the last month, primarily as a result of decreases in Navajo and Heron reservoirs in northern New Mexico. Storage in several New Mexico reservoirs increased during the last month, due to much needed summer monsoon precipitation. Elephant Butte Reservoir is still at an exceedingly low 3.4 percent of capacity. These reservoir levels reflect the effect of two consecutive years of extremely low snowpack in the mountain ranges in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado from which most of the water originates.
In water-related news, the Ogallala Aquifer, which lies under Portales and other eastern New Mexico towns, is decreasing at a rate of about four feet per year, signifying “an impending crisis,” according to the program manager of the Ute Water Project (Portales News-Tribune, July 25). The federally approved Ute Water Project will pipe water from the Ute Reservoir in eastern New Mexico’s Quay County to Curry and Roosevelt counties, helping to diversify water resources. Phase one of the project will be completed in 10 years, about the life of the Ogallala Aquifer’s saturated sediments at current rates of depletion.
The map gives a representation of current storage 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 (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 (dotted line) and the 1971–2000 reservoir average (red line).
The table details more exactly the current capacity (listed as a percent of maximum storage). Current and maximum storage 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
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, Managing Editor, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Dollin, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
- Dave Dubois, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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