ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Expect the Rio Grande downstream from Elephant Butte Reservoir to begin drying by July 14, officials announced today, ending the shortest irrigation season on record for water users in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico and leaving Elephant Butte Reservoir at its lowest point in more than 40 years.
Here’s the full statement issued this afternoon by the US Bureau of Reclamation:
With the flow between Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs ending on Monday, the shortest irrigation season in the history of the Rio Grande Project is quickly coming to an end. Although a limited flow will continue between the two reservoirs for the next few days, there are no further releases scheduled for 2013.
Flows from Caballo Reservoir for Rio Grande Project water delivery will end on July 14, which will mean the river channel between the two reservoirs and downstream of Elephant Butte will begin to dry.
Water levels at Elephant Butte Reservoir are at a historic 40-year low. The current level is 3.1 percent of total storage capacity. Irrigators on the Rio Grande Project received an initial allotment of just six percent of a full supply this year. The irrigation season began on June 1, 2013 and lasted just over one.
Rio Grande Project water is used to irrigate lands in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in southern New Mexico, the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 in west Texas and Mexico. Project water is also used for municipal and industrial purposes by the city of El Paso, Texas.