The El Paso region braces for deeper #drought, less #RioGrande #water for farming — El Paso Matters

Click the link to read the article on the El Paso Matters website (Danielle Prokop). Here’s an excerpt:

In previous years, water would begin to flow in the Rio Grande in springtime, released from storage from Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico, and pour into fields and ditches for cotton, pecans, chiles and other crops. Instead, once again, the riverbed remains sandy and bare, and Elephant Butte is at just 12% of its capacity, awaiting snowmelt from the mountains in Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

US Drought Monitor map April 12, 2022.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map currently shows about half of El Paso county remains “abnormally dry,” but experts said Tuesday they expect hotter temperatures and little rain to desiccate the Western United States — 90% of which is already in a drought.

Local irrigation managers for New Mexico, Far West Texas and Mexico anticipate a short, small season starting in June, despite the predicted hotter temperatures. A formal announcement with the exact numbers for irrigation will be released from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation later this month, Mary Carlson, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map April 13, 2022 via the NRCS.

Snowpacks in New Mexico were boosted by winter storms, and a late March snow, as records showed snowpacks at 100% of median, or higher, in New Mexico. But even good years are not replenishing the river as well as before. That threatens the Rio Grande, which relies on snowmelt for three-fourths of its water…

Hotter temperatures dry out soils, and that can absorb as much as 20% of water before it hits the riverbed, meaning less water to flow downstream…

Projections show El Paso farmers are expecting only 18 inches of water per acre, rather than the full 48 inches, said Jesús Reyes, the manager for El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1.

Leave a Reply