Reclamation Announces Beginning 2013 Irrigation Season for Rio Grande Project

Media Contact: Mary Carlson, (505) 462-3576
Filiberto Cortez, (915) 534-6300

For Release: May 17, 2013

With the beginning of the Rio Grande Project irrigation season, the Bureau of Reclamation will initiate releases from Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs so water will soon be flowing down the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and west Texas.

Releases will begin out of Elephant Butte Reservoir at 8 a.m. on Thursday May 23, 2013. The public should be aware that even though the river bed is dry between Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs, a large amount of water will begin flowing that day. The release will begin at 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) and will increase to 1,400 cfs the following day.

Releases will begin out of Caballo Reservoir on Saturday June 1, 2013 formally marking the beginning of the irrigation season for the Rio Grande Project. The release from Caballo will start at 500 cfs and increase to about 2000 cfs the following day. These flows will be continuous until about mid-July.

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.

The public should be aware that water levels within the Rio Grande channel will rise and fluctuate during the irrigation season, particularly with the initial release from each dam.

Water levels at Elephant Butte Reservoir are expected to reach historic lows this summer based on the runoff forecast. The current level is 11 percent of total storage capacity. The present allotments for irrigation on the Rio Grande Project are five percent of a full supply.

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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.