U.S. Water News Online
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. -- Hundreds of Sierra County
residents and business owners oppose a proposed drought plan that
would involve releasing water from Elephant Butte Reservoir for
About 400 people attended a meeting with state Engineer John
D'Antonio to voice their opposition.
``It's going to devastate the economy down here,'' said real
estate agent John Garcia.
An interstate compact over the Rio Grande bars New Mexico from
impounding new flows into certain reservoirs if the water level in
Elephant Butte falls too low, which happened last year.
D'Antonio is negotiating with Texas on a proposal that would allow
New Mexico to store water in upstream Rio Grande reservoirs in
exchange for releases of water from Elephant Butte over the next
The Texas commissioner for the Rio Grande Compact rejected New
Mexico's proposal and countered with a one-year offer.
The stored water in reservoirs north of Albuquerque would help
satisfy irrigation needs of farmers, protect the endangered silvery
minnow by maintaining flows in the Rio Grande and replenish water
supplies for Santa Fe during the summer.
The deal would mean about 56 percent of Elephant Butte Reservoir's
water would be released. The surface area of the lake, which is
already at its lowest level since the 1970s, could shrink by as much
as 72 percent.
Elephant Butte boat dealer Paul Scott said the first-year drawdown
of the proposal would drop the lake to a level where boats couldn't
``It ``will still be devastating,'' Scott said.
Dave Armstrong, manager of Lakeside RV Park said people are
already canceling their reservations.
``The only positive thing I see is job growth for the state in
them having to expand their welfare and unemployment office in this
area,'' Armstrong said.
D'Antonio said even with the drawdown of a water release ``there's
more water here than there is in other lakes in the state.''
It's also possible the state could wind up releasing 217,500 acre
feet of water over this and next year instead of all this year,
Gov. Bill Richardson's director of policy and strategic planning
Bill Hume said nothing has been decided and the governor will review
any New Mexico proposal.
Richardson has said the possible impact on the Butte's bustling
recreation business has him worried.
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.