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Published June 27, 2012
New Mexico Reservoir Levels(data through 5/31/12)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
Storage in New Mexico’s reservoirs reported here declined by 61,800 acre-feet in May (Figure 7). All but two of the reservoirs lost storage during the last month and most are at lower levels than they were one year ago. Elephant Butte, located on the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, remains only 17 percent full. Levels are particularly low in Pecos River reservoirs, due to the extended and severe La Niña episode, which deprived eastern and southern New Mexico of much precipitation in the last two years.
In water-related news, low water levels in Burn Lake, a man-made lake on the west side of Las Cruces, has reduced migratory bird populations and stranded domesticated waterfowl (Las Cruces Sun News, June 4). Low flows in the Rio Grande caused by scant precipitation for the last two years have lessened inflow into the lake. However, the lake could rapidly refill if the monsoon delivers substantial rain.
Also, southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley farmers received irrigation water earlier than previously announced, according to Elephant Butte Irrigation District officials (Las Cruces Sun News, May 31). Water for these farmers and farmers in the El Paso region was released together to reduce losses from evaporation and seepage.
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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