Reclamation begins releases for Rio Grande Project irrigation season and announces Annual Operating Plan public meetings

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

For Release: February 27, 2020

Elephant Butte, N.M. – In the coming days, the Bureau of Reclamation will release water for the 2020 irrigation season on the Rio Grande Project, resulting in inundation to the dry riverbed below Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs.

Reclamation will begin releasing water from Elephant Butte Reservoir on March 3 at 8 a.m. The release from Caballo Reservoir will begin on March 13 at around 6 a.m. Initial releases from both reservoirs could reach around 2,000 cubic feet per second. The public is asked to avoid the river channel during the initial release and to be aware that flows will fluctuate throughout the irrigation season. Initial releases from Caballo Reservoir will meet demands of El Paso County Water Improvement District Number 1 and Mexico. The Elephant Butte Irrigation District plans to start irrigating the Rincon Valley at a later date.

Reclamation staff will closely watch snowpack measurements and spring streamflow forecasts to prepare for operations this irrigation season. Early forecasts indicate that runoff is close to average on the Rio Grande. Public meetings will be held to discuss the Annual Operating Plan for the Rio Chama and Middle Rio Grande Project in New Mexico and the Rio Grande Project through southern New Mexico and into west Texas.

Middle Rio Grande Project and Rio Grande Project Public Meeting Dates and Locations:

Middle Rio Grande AOP: Thursday April 16, 2020, at 2 p.m. Bureau of Reclamation, 555 Broadway NE, Suite 100, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87102. To participate in the Albuquerque meeting via Webex, e-mail Mary Carlson at

Rio Grande AOP: Friday April 17, 2020, at 1 p.m. Elephant Butte State Park’s Richard Cooper Training Center, 101 Highway 195, Elephant Butte, New Mexico, 87935.

Contact Mary Carlson at (505) 462-3576 with any questions. If you are unable to attend either meeting, but are interested in the presentation, it will be posted following the meeting at Or, for more information you can e-mail Mary Carlson at

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