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Saturday, August 23, 2014 - 4:06am

Elephant Butte water levels are up, ready for summer crowd

Memorial Day
Sunday, May 18, 2014 - 10:53pm

Elephant Butte residents are welcoming rising water levels and preparing to welcome thousands of visitors.

The lake is 45 feet higher than it was back in August, which has people all around the Butte excited.

"It's probably been as good as it has been in the past 5 years," said Jack Herndon, who has been coming to the lake for nearly 30 years.

He said you simply can’t compare the lake to last year.

"Well last year was really sad, Herndon said. “The ramp behind me was way down."

Officials with the cities of Elephant Butte and Truth or Consequences, along with New Mexico State Parks, wanted to show off the increased water levels ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

Park officials are expecting more than 100,000 people to make their way to the lake.

When the park saw a decrease in visitors from the low water levels last year business owners suffered.

"Business was down last year. It was one of our lowest years,” said Alan Brown, owner of the main marina at Elephant Butte Lake. “This year we are up anywhere from 50% to 60% in terms of visitation and people coming to the marina.”

Brown also said the lake is more than ready for the summer crowds.

"Last year we saw land that nobody has seen in their life time. People living now hadn't seen,” he said. “This year those places are, again, 45 feet under water."

Looking around the lake, you can still see where the water line has been. But for those that have been coming to the lake all their lives, they said where the water level is now, is actually normal.

"Traditional historical norms is what we are seeing right now. What we saw back then was abnormal,” said State Parks Director Tommy Mutz.

Even though the lake is nowhere near full, Herndon said if you are looking for a great way to cool off this summer, the Butte is the perfect destination.

"Come out here and enjoy the lake. It's back to the old times."

Officials will be letting water out for the irrigation season, which starts right after Memorial Day. They said the water will decrease when that happens.

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