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Published September 26, 2012
New Mexico Reservoir Levels(data through 8/31/12)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
New Mexico reservoirs that have reported this month show a combined water storage decrease of about 191,000 acre-feet in July (Figure 7). Cochiti Lake and Abiquiu were the only New Mexico reservoirs tracked here that increased storage during August. Storage in Navajo, New Mexico’s largest reservoir, stands at 65 percent of average. On the other hand, Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs, located on the Rio Grande in central New Mexico, lost about 74,000 acre-feet and are only 5 percent full. Despite reduced irrigation allotments in nine out of the last 10 years, irrigation water in these two reservoirs is completely exhausted. This water helps support 90,000 acres of farmland, predominantly in Doña Ana County, and shortfalls during recent years—and those of the future—have been offset by increased groundwater pumping that bears an economic burden for farmers (see Page 3). Low precipitation stemming from the extended and severe La Niña episodes during the past two winters reduced runoff to streams feeding many reservoirs in New Mexico.
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 Dubois, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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