Elephant Butte Will Have Plenty Of Water This Summer

Media Contact: Kim Greenwood, (505) 462-3557

For Release: May 18, 2004

Reclamation announced Monday evening that even after supplying irrigation water to farmers in Southern New Mexico, West Texas and Mexico, Elephant Butte Reservoir will still have 3,628 surface acres or about six square miles of water on which to recreate at its lowest level in late-September. This is about three times more surface area than what is currently at Cochiti Reservoir.

"There will be plenty of water for fishing, boating and recreating at Elephant Butte Reservoir this summer," said Jack Garner, Albuquerque Area Manager.

Recreaters will see about the same water elevations, within two to three feet, in the reservoir this year as they did last year for Memorial and 4 th of July weekends. Last year, New Mexico State Parks reported good visitor numbers for the holidays.

When the dam gates close in late-September, water level in the reservoir will begin to rise and will continue to do so through Spring runoff in 2005, because of inflow from the Rio Grande. This inflow consists of storm events and return flows from irrigation in the upper reaches of the Rio Grande. Also, as the temperatures drop, the riparian areas use less water during the Fall and Winter, leaving more water in the river.

Reclamation and the State of New Mexico have worked together to dig a channel connecting the river to the reservoir pool so inflow can reach the pool.

"Our staff flew the river last week, and we are pleased to announce that the flows from the Rio Grande are reaching the reservoir pool," said Garner. "This channel project has been an important one for maintaining water in the reservoir."

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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 www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.