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Published February 27, 2013
New Mexico Reservoir Volumes(data through 1/31/13)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
Combined water storage in New Mexico’s reservoirs increased slightly compared to one month ago, primarily due to an increase in the level of Elephant Butte Reservoir (Figure 7). Reservoir storage often increases during this time of year. As of January 31, combined storage on the four reservoirs on the Pecos River was about 1.7 percent of capacity, which is well below average. Only Cochiti Reservoir and Lake Avalon had greater storage than they did one year ago. Reservoirs on the Rio Grande are extremely low as a result of well below-average runoff years in 2011 and 2012. Flows this spring also are likely to be below average. Snowpacks in the high elevations of New Mexico and southern Colorado, which generate much of the water for the Rio Grande, are generally 70–80 percent of average. Unless there is a shift in storm tracks in the next couple of months, there may be reduced water allocations for many water users this summer, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Ski areas also have been impacted by scant snow, and there are concerns that this summer’s fire season could be active.
In water-related news, the state legislature has introduced multiple measures to deal with scarce water resources, including expediting water cases in district courts, averting in-state water wars between irrigation districts, and advancing regional water planning (Santa Fe New Mexican, February 12).
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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