New Mexico’s irrigation season to begin along Rio Grande

February 28, 2020 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The 2020 irrigation season for farmers along the lower Rio Grande will begin in the coming days when U.S. water managers begin releasing water from one of New Mexico’s largest dams.

The Bureau of Reclamation cautioned people below Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs that water will be flowing again through the dry riverbed. Initial releases from both reservoirs could reach around 2,000 cubic feet per second (57 cubic meters per second), and the flows will fluctuate throughout the season.

The bureau said its employees are monitoring snowpack measurements and spring streamflow forecasts to prepare for operations this season.

Early forecasts indicate that runoff is close to average on the Rio Grande, and the spring outlook released by the National Weather Service in Albuquerque reports the majority of watersheds in New Mexico are near to slightly above average when it comes to the amount of water that can be expected as the snow melts.

The Bureau of Reclamation is planning public meetings in April to discuss the annual operating plans for the Rio Chama and Rio Grande.