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Published April 24, 2013
New Mexico Reservoir Volumes(data through 3/31/13)
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 of about 23,000 acre-feet in the level of Elephant Butte Reservoir (Figure 7). Reservoir storage often increases during this time of year as snow begins to melt in the higher elevations. Nevertheless, reservoir volumes throughout New Mexico are well below average as a result of low winter snowpacks in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico this winter and the previous two. As of March 31, combined storage on the four reservoirs on the Pecos River was about 30,100 acre-feet, which is well below its average of 111,800 acre-feet and about 2,300 acre-feet less than it was one year ago. It will take several years of above-average rain and snow to improve the situation on both the Pecos River and the Rio Grande.
In water-related news, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, New Mexico’s largest irrigation district, is curtailing deliveries to some of its farmers due to ongoing drought (Albuquerque Journal, April 16). Also, Texas has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court claiming that New Mexico farmers are taking more than their share of water from the Rio Grande.
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 Dubious, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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