Interstate Stream Commission Works To Clear Elephant Butte Sediment

Jan 31, 2014

Credit NMFO

  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  to  read  an  intresting  fact  sheet  which  includes  the  history  and  benefits  of  the  project.