Drought watch for the Borderland continues


POSTED: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 6:18pm

UPDATED: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:09pm

El Paso (KTSM) More than half of the lower United States is classified as a severe drought and right here in the Borderland the very dry conditions are having a big impact on area farmers.

The farmers rely heavily on irrigation for their crops. This is the water that is stored first in Elephant Butte and then in Caballo Reservoir. Those reservoirs are about 90 percent empty, and that status has caused a delayed water release for everyone downstream. The first of two releases into the Rio Grande will happen the week of May 20th, but farmers will still have to wait for their water until the middle of June.

The lack of water available has caused area farmers to use their well water to supplement their needs, but those can run dry, be slow to recharge or have a high saline content. The choices are very limited and some farmers have planted fewer crops, spent more money on supplies and may even, as a last resort, sell off livestock to manage.

Water will be released into the Caballo Reservoir where it will wait for one big release on June first. The flow will stop around July 15. The public should be aware that the level of the Rio Grande will fluctuate during this irrigation season and caution is urged around it's banks.

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