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New Mexico Reservoir Volumes | CLIMAS

 SW Climate Outlook

New Mexico Reservoir Volumes

(data through June 30, 2013)
Data Source(s): National Water and Climate Center

Combined water storage in the 15 New Mexico reservoirs reported here was about 36 percent of average and only 17 percent of capacity as of June 30 (Figure 7). One year ago, combined reservoir storage was about 26 percent full. Due to a dry winter, many reservoirs have experienced declines from last year. For example, reservoir storage on the Pecos River is about half what it was in June 2012.

During the summer, many reservoirs usually experience declines as a result of withdrawals for irrigation. Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs, the major reservoirs on the lower New Mexico Rio Grande, currently contain only 3 and 6 percent of capacity, respectively, a decline from 9 and 11 percent one month ago. Elephant Butte storage is at its lowest level since the early 1970s and irrigation in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District ended in mid-July after only about 6 weeks. This marks one of the shortest irrigation seasons on record. The El Paso Water Improvement District 1, which also draws water from the Elephant Butte Reservoir that supplies urban and agriculture needs, issued a notice of drought emergency due to low water allocations. The low reservoir levels in part reflect two consecutive years of scant snow in the headwater mountain ranges in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.


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).