The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (NMISC) continues to collaborate with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to maintain the 20+ mile long Elephant Butte Reservoir pilot channel that serves to move as much water as possible along the Rio Grande into Elephant Butte Reservoir. The pilot channel connects the Rio Grande through the now dry delta at Elephant Butte Reservoir to the lake.
This action helps farmers in the Lower Rio Grande, recreation at the Elephant Butte Reservoir, and New Mexico in continuing to meet its Compact delivery obligation. The pilot channel extends south along the Rio Grande valley from near Fort Craig, New Mexico to the Elephant Butte Reservoir pool.
“The pilot channel work has many benefits,” said State Engineer Scott Verhines. “By doing this maintenance prior to the spring snowmelt runoff, the channel will be ready to convey as much water as possible to Elephant Butte Reservoir when the runoff occurs.”
Scheduled maintenance began on January 17 and is anticipated to continue through March 2014.
The NMISC has retained the services of Wilco Marsh Buggies to clear sediment from the river stemming from the September rains and to repair spoil levees. They will be using amphibious excavators suitable for the harsh working conditions far from maintained roads. The pilot channel is about 150 to 300 feet wide and 3 to 5 feet deep with berms roughly 5 to 10 feet high. The 20 mile long channel is designed to convey river flows ranging up to 2,000 cubic feet per second. The upper seven miles of channel were constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation in cooperation with the NMISC, and the lower 13 miles were constructed by Wilco Marsh Buggies.
For more information about the Pilot channel, visit www.ose.state.nm.us/isc_news to read an intresting fact sheet which includes the history and benefits of the project.