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Published June 26, 2013
New Mexico Reservoir Volumes(through 5/31/13)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
Combined water storage in the 11 New Mexico reservoirs with current data and reported here was about 22 percent of capacity and only 41 percent of average as of May 31 (Figure 7). New Mexico total reservoir storage increased slightly, primarily due to spring snowmelt runoff into Navajo Reservoir. Three of the four reservoirs on the Pecos River did not report to USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service this month. However, there was likely no substantial improvement over last month’s storage because precipitation in recent weeks was scant. Current storage in these reservoirs is about 1 percent of capacity and 17 percent of average. One year ago, storage in Pecos River reservoirs was also very low, but about twice that of current storage. On the Rio Grande, Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs also are extremely low, measuring only 9 and 11 percent of capacity, respectively. Low New Mexico reservoir levels reflect the effect of two consecutive years of extremely low snowpack in the rivers’ headwaters.
In water-related news, tourist visits over Memorial Day weekend to the 35 state parks in New Mexico was down 40.6 percent from last year, resulting in a 41.3 percent drop in revenue (Carlsbad Current-Argus, June 15). State park officials point to the severity of ongoing drought, which, for example, has dropped Conchas Lake to its lowest level since 1940, when record-keeping began. Conchas is one of four state park lakes closed to motorized boating as a consequence of drought conditions.
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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