Reclamation Announces End of Rio Grande Project 2004 Irrigation Season

Media Contact: Filiberto Cortez, 915-534-6301

For Release: October 05, 2004

With the end of the 2004 irrigation season, the water level at Elephant Butte Reservoir, located in southwestern New Mexico, is about 30,000 acre-feet higher than predicted in May because late summer rains reduced farmers' needs for stored water. The rains came at the end of the irrigation season when farmers couldn't take full advantage of the additional water; therefore, Reclamation and the districts decided to store the remaining water for use next year.

"Generous rainfall over the Project area during August and September reduced irrigation demand for stored water," stated Filiberto Cortez, manager of Reclamation's El Paso Field Division. "Consequently, the storage level at Elephant Butte Reservoir is higher than earlier predicted."

The gates at Elephant Butte Reservoir closed on September 24, leaving 94,615 acre-feet in storage which is about 7.5 square miles of surface area. Water levels at Elephant Butte Reservoir will increase through Spring 2005, as water from the Rio Grande flows into the reservoir.

A total of 395,830 acre-feet was released to Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1, and Mexico. Reclamation allocated 38 percent of a full supply for irrigation this year, four percent more than last year.

While spring runoff in 2004 was better than those of the last several years, the drought in the upper Rio Grande Basin continues. With continuing drought conditions and low Project storage, Reclamation, Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District #1, and Mexico have already started to plan for next year's irrigation season.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.