ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A rapidly deteriorating water supply situation caused water managers to issue a stark warning to middle Rio Grande irrigators Tuesday: Conserve as much as you can, because water supply in storage may run out by mid-August.
Just last week, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District water manager David Gensler said he thought water currently in storage might last until the end of August, and that if it was managed carefully, the supply might stretch into September.
But the district’s message abruptly shifted Tuesday with a stark warning to farmers. Because of shortages earlier in the year, the district will likely have to begin using some of the water stored behind upstream dams now, meaning it will run out of water sooner.
“We may have to begin releasing water from storage at El Vado Reservoir six weeks earlier than normal” Gensler said in a statement issued by the district Tuesday afternoon. “This could result in the district exhausting its stored water by mid-August.”
The district supplies irrigation water to about 60,000 acres from Cochiti to south of Socorro. Farmers use it to raise alfalfa, corn and other crops.
This year’s problems are the result of a low snowpack and an extremely dry March, with much of the mountain snow evaporating or soaking into dry soil rather than making it to area rivers, water managers say.
The shortage makes it incumbent on farmers to conserve as much water as they can, Conservancy District Board Chairman Derrick Lente said in an interview Tuesday.
— This article appeared on page C02 of the Albuquerque Journal