U.S. Water News Online
SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico wants to use some of the
credit it has built up in its water deliveries to Texas to help ease
the effects of drought this year.
Under the Rio Grande Compact, New Mexico is forbidden from storing
water in three reservoirs upstream from Elephant Butte Reservoir when
Elephant Butte is very low.
But the state has delivered more water than required to Elephant
Butte for Texas in past years. New Mexico has built up a credit of
about 265,000 acre feet in the reservoir.
The compact, which splits the river's water among Colorado, New
Mexico and Texas, allows New Mexico to relinquish part of that credit
water and then store an equal amount of water upstream -- if Texas
New Mexico recently made an offer to Texas to relinquish a
substantial amount of credit water, said John D'Antonio, New Mexico
``It would help just about everybody,'' he said.
Years of drought have strained water supplies up and down the Rio
Grande and left Elephant Butte at 19 percent of capacity, less than a
third of where it should be at this time of year.
The relinquished credit water would be released from Elephant
Butte, which would help farmers in southern New Mexico as well as El
The farmers this year face an irrigation season with just 15
percent of normal supplies. The credit water would bring that up to
about 25 percent of normal, said Ken Maxey, area manager for the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation.
``To us, it looks like a pretty good deal all around,'' Maxey
The ability to store water at El Vado Reservoir in northern New
Mexico would be a big help to the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy
District but still not enough for a full supply, said Subhas Shah,
the district's chief executive officer.
``That won't be enough for the season yet until we get rainfall or
other water,'' he said, adding that how long stored water lasts
depends on the weather.
The Bureau of Reclamation also would be able to store some water
to be released to help keep the river flowing for the endangered Rio
Grande silvery minnow, Maxey said.
Current supplies for the minnow are expected to run out June 15,
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.