POSTED: Friday, January 6, 2012 - 6:36pm
UPDATED: Monday, January 9, 2012 - 9:19am
EL PASO - For the past 70 or so years, the Rio Grande has been reigned in behind the Elephant Butte dam. The river's water comes primarily from the snowpack of southern Colorado. If left unchecked, farmers who rely on the water to grow their crops would be left to feast or famine depending on the fickle weather patterns that bring snow to the river's relatively small source region. Some years the river would deliver lots of water, others very little.
Water held behind the dam is released in tune with the growing season. The amount released depends on how much water is in the reservoir, and the time when the water could be best used by farmers.
Last year was the driest year on record in Texas, and there was less water to go around. Water was fed into the Rio Grande for only 6 months by the El Paso Irrigation District and only about 1 month for the Elephant Butte Irrigation district. The reservoir is now only about 1/3 full, and this year, growers will once again have to deal with little irrigated water.
If you want to see for yourself....Saturday, January 7th the road that goes across the dam will be open to the public for one day only. It has been closed since September 11, 2001.