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Published July 25, 2012
New Mexico Reservoir Levels(data through 6/30/12)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
New Mexico reservoirs decreased by 248,900 acre-feet in June (Figure 7), due to increased water demand, early snowmelt runoff, and a lack of spring precipitation. Most New Mexico reservoirs are at lower levels than they were one year ago. Elephant Butte Reservoir, located on the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, is 12 percent full. Reservoir levels continue to be particularly low in the Pecos and Canadian river basins. Low precipitation, due to two consecutive La Niña episodes, reduced runoff to streams feeding the reservoirs.
In water-related news, New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall are co-sponsoring a bill that would help rural and tribal communities in New Mexico and other states meet their future water needs. If the bill is passed, it would allow the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to send $80 million each year toward congressionally approved rural water projects (Associated Press, July 18). Many approved rural water projects in New Mexico lack funds for construction. Also, Bonito Lake, a fishing retreat and source of drinking water for Alamogordo, has experienced large influxes of silt and ash from this year’s Little Bear fire (Alamogordo Daily News, July 10).
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
- 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 Dubious, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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