Snowmelt Causing High Flows on the Rio Chama
Media Contact: Mary Carlson, (505)462-3576
For Release: May 25, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Flows on the Rio Chama are on the rise as the most robust spring runoff since 2005 continues in northern New Mexico.
The Bureau of Reclamation is currently releasing 3,000 cubic feet per second from El Vado Reservoir into the Rio Chama in an attempt to keep up with the snowmelt and is moving water at the request of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. The safe channel capacity for this stretch of the Rio Chama is 4,500 cfs.
Reclamation is being proactive with the release to ensure there is adequate room to safely store the additional water that will be coming into the reservoir as there is still a considerable amount of snow at the higher elevations. As of this week, 25.8 inches of snow-water was being reported at Cumbres Trestle, which is the highest point on the contributing watershed. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s May forecast, there is still approximately 100,000 acre-feet of water to come into El Vado before the end of July.
The higher flows will provide great opportunities for recreation this Memorial Day weekend, but the public should use caution as water levels are higher and flows are faster than what has become the norm on the Rio Chama in recent years. Recreationists and those traveling along the Rio Chama between El Vado and Abiquiu should exercise extreme caution.
Those heading out for recreation on or near rivers and reservoirs throughout New Mexico should be aware of changing conditions and fluctuating water levels.
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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 https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.