Water will begin flowing from Caballo Reservoir into the Rio Grande early Sunday morning as the 2012 irrigation season begins for the Rio Grande Project.
Due to low water supplies and what is shaping up to be a lower than average snowpack in all of the basins feeding the Rio Grande, the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in southern New Mexico and El Paso County Water Improvement District #1 in west Texas, and the Republic of Mexico presently have only 20 percent of a full allocation. Plans at this time have El Paso County Water Improvement District #1 and Mexico starting their irrigation season on April 5. Elephant Butte Irrigation District will begin taking its water in May.
The Rio Grande below Caballo Reservoir has been dry for several months. Anyone working or engaging in recreational activities in or near the Rio Grande in the coming days should be aware of the change in the state of the river. Water will begin moving down through southern New Mexico on Sunday and then into west Texas and Mexico in the coming days.
Reclamation began moving water from Elephant Butte to Caballo Reservoir a few days ago to prepare for the first release from Caballo. The initial release of 300 cubic feet per second on Sunday will increase to about 1,300 cfs by that night in order to more efficiently deliver the water.
The public should be aware that water levels within the Rio Grande channel will fluctuate throughout the irrigation season, particularly with the initial releases. The public should also be aware of fluctuating water levels within the Rio Grande natural channel downstream of Elephant Butte Dam, as well as the lake level at Caballo Reservoir during the irrigation season.