News Release Archive

Reclamation Announces Beginning of 2014 Irrigation Season for Rio Grande Project

Media Contact: Mary Carlson, (505) 462-3576,

For Release: May 21, 2014

ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. – The Rio Grande will flow through southern New Mexico on Sunday as the irrigation season begins for the Rio Grande Project. An initial release of 800 cubic-feet-per-second will begin out of Caballo Reservoir at 8 a.m. increasing to 2,500 cfs at noon.

Releases will begin out of Elephant Butte Reservoir at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The public should be aware that even though the river bed is currently dry between Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs, a large amount of water will begin flowing that day. The release will begin at 2,000 cfs and will likely remain close to that level until August.

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 El Paso, Texas.

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

Water levels at Elephant Butte Reservoir reached historic lows last summer. The reservoir recovered slightly due in part to some good monsoons in September and is currently at 18.5 percent capacity. Last year at this time it was at 11 percent of total storage capacity. The low spring runoff projections show that the reservoir will likely drop significantly again this summer. The present allotments for irrigation on the Rio Grande Project are 25 percent of a full supply.

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