EL PASO, TX (KTSM) The Bureau of Reclamation released water from Elephant Butte and the Caballo Lake Reservoir on June 1 and those in the Borderland are anticipating the arrival of the newly released water.
Jesus Reyes from the El Paso Water Improvement District 1 said the water is making its way down the Rio Grande and is expected to arrive in the Lower Valley area of El Paso by Sunday morning.
“Our community used to be a farm community and it still is we have about 69,000 acres of cropland irrigated,” Reyes said.
Reyes said right now, farmers in the area are relying on their well systems as they await the river water and hope for rain.
“If they run out of river water they have to go back to the wells to meet their crops,” Reyes said.
The irrigation season is delayed and shortened this year. Jerry Melendez, a civil engineer with the Bureau of Reclamation said normally the season starts in March and goes through October, but because of less water available due to drought conditions, the season is shorter.
“Climatologists say we are in a mega drought it could be the worst in 2,000 years so that’s why we face the shortage over the past 20 years, it could be the worst drought on record,” Melendez said.
He said ahead of the season, the Bureau of Reclamation reviews how much water is available in the Elephant Butte and Caballo Lake reservoirs and determines how much water to release to the irrigation districts in Southern New Mexico, El Paso and Juarez.
“We’re looking at maybe 25 percent of a full release cause the reservoir’s only 13 percent full…not a lot of water to go around right now,” Melendez said.
Once the water makes its way to El Paso, experts say the canals can fill up quickly and can be dangerous for those who typically like to partake in outdoor activities near or in the river.
Reyes said some areas of the Riverside Canal can get between 8-10 feet deep and while the water appears to be calm, he said the currents run fast and strong and can easily pull people under.
El Paso Water also relies on the released water to treat and release to customers. A spokesperson for El Paso Water said the public should also work on conserving water as there is less water this season.
Some conservation tips include watering on scheduled days only. Those who live at even number addresses can water Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and those with odd numbers should water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
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