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Published May 23, 2012
New Mexico Reservoir Levels(data through 4/30/12)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
New Mexico reservoirs gained 83,100 acre-feet in April due to early snowmelt runoff; New Mexico snowpack peaked almost four weeks earlier than average. Storage in New Mexico’s largest reservoirs, Elephant Butte and Navajo, is about 372,200 and 1.3 million acre-feet, respectively (Figure 7). Elephant Butte, located on the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, is only 17 percent full. Storage in Navajo, located on the San Juan River in northwest New Mexico, is at 79 percent of capacity, much like it was at this time last year. Combined storage of reservoirs on the Pecos River is less than half of what it was during the extremely dry 2007–08 La Niña winter.
In water-related news, below-average winter snowpacks contributed to low groundwater levels near Santa Fe. In this area, community wells in the village of Chupadero recently dried and water rationing has been implemented (The New Mexican, May 7). Low snowpacks were a common occurrence in many basins in the southern Rocky Mountains this past spring and winter.
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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