Recent rains not enough to fill state reservoirs

Posted at: 09/23/2013 5:30 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Sunday night’s rain in Albuquerque and other parts of the state won’t do much to fill up New Mexico’s drought-shrunken reservoirs. In fact, all of the rain from last week won’t do the trick either.

Last week the Rio Puerco in central New Mexico was a flashflood-swollen river, overflowing its banks and sending floodwater into the Rio Grande and down to Elephant Butte reservoir. Today the Puerco was back to its old self – a muddy ditch with a couple feet of water in it. The Butte is still very low, at about five percent of its 2 million acre-feet capacity.

“Elephant Butte is so low that the Butte has to come up to 400,000 acre-feet of water before, in the middle Rio Grande, we can start storing water for next year,” said Chris Sichler, a board member of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. Sichler grows chile and other produce on his Snake ranch Farm in San Antonio. “So we’re a long ways from that, from 400,000 acre-feet, so it’s probably going to take two or three years of good snowpacks  and rain like we’ve been having.”

Snowpack in the mountains and higher elevations provides the lion’s share on New Mexico’s irrigation water. In recent years that snowpack has not been good.