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Published May 22, 2013
New Mexico Reservoir Volumes(through 4/30/13)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center
Combined water storage in New Mexico’s reservoirs decreased by 16,000 acre-feet compared to one month ago, primarily due to a decrease Abiquiu (Figure 7). Reservoir levels throughout New Mexico are well below average as a result of low winter snowpacks in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico for the past three winters. As of April 30, combined storage on the four reservoirs on the Pecos River was about 18,900 acre-feet, which is about 17 percent of average and about 20,000 acre-feet less than it was one year ago. On the Rio Grande, only Abiquiu and Cochiti have near-average storage. All other reservoirs reported here have less than 50 percent of average storage. 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, low water storage on the Rio Grande is being described as the most critical shortage of Rio Grande water for farmers in southern New Mexico and west Texas in nearly 100 years (El Paso Times, May 6). Elephant Butte Irrigation District officials warned farmers that allotments could be as low as 3.2 inches; in a good year, allotments are around 36 inches. The irrigation season may also last only one month, several months less than higher allotment seasons.
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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