Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Heron Lake, New Mexico, and other area lake info., December 4, 2005 data

"Water buckets" describing recent status of area lakes. From the Bureau of Reclamation.

Good web sites for tracking Heron include,
(gives current and up to 72 hours of past data for lakes and streams)
(table, updated around the middle of the month, for the year up through the prior month, showing what happened to the water)
(produced the pretty picture above, showing, for example, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy has taken most of its water for the year, but Albuquerque has just started.)
(gives status of state parks, fishing conditions, etc.)

Heron Lake level and conditions, Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Heron Lake, NM, on Tuesday, December 6, was at elevation of 7148.23 feet with 212,307 acre feet in storage. Heron continues its fall discharge at a moderate, steady rate, losing 11.16 inches and about 3,830 acre feet in the last week and 16,000 a.f during November.

The lake is about 5 feet 2.2 inches below this summer's highest elevation after coming to within 3 inches of the summer peak during October. (This year's peak was about 7153.41', 234,174 acre feet. 400,000 acre feet at about 7,184' is considered full, spillway would be at 7,186' and about 410,000 a.f.). Contractors have already taken about 35,200 acre feet of water [Middle Rio Grande Conservancy, Cochiti, City of Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and other contractors], out of the lake this season, so only about 61,000 a.f. remains to be taken out.) Willow Creek is no longer flowing at any significant rate and is beginning to freeze.

All boats are out of the marina. The marina is closed and de-commissioned for winter. Dinghies and picnic tables are stacked; books, fire extinguishers, and bbq grills have been removed. The State Parks rangers have agreed to lock the gate. The club has received a proposal for replacing A dock. The board and club will need to discuss this soon and come to a decision.

Now is the time to expect rapid changes in the lake level, as this November is when Albuquerque takes its water. This doesn't change the prediction for this winter/early spring 2006's low ebb of about 4.7 to 4.9 feet of water in Willow Creek Cove, if the contractors remove all their 2005 allocation before we get any 2006 runoff. (The contractors must either use their water in 2005 or else call for it by December 31st in order not to lose it.)

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District has used up most of its allocation this year, and the Cochiti Recreation Pool has probably taken much of their water already. Now, the biggest user, the City of Albuquerque, along with other contractors, is taking its water. Note that typically a small part of a given year's water allocation isn't removed until sometime in the following spring.

As of October 31, the lake was at 231,310 acre feet, elevation of 7152.75, had discharged 17,255 acre-feet of San Juan-Chama water during the 2005 season, and lost 6,217 acre-feet to evaporation. No Rio Grande water was retained in the lake; the lake instead was owed 30 acre-feet of Rio Grande water. So far, as of Dec. 5, the lake has lost 18,900 acre-feet of water since then; best guess at a breakdown would be 19,400 a.f. SJ-C discharge, 100 a.f. of evaporation, and 600 a.f. SJ-C inflow.

The fearless prediction for the water level the marina winds up in for the end of this coming winter/early spring of 2006 is about 4.9 feet, plus 1.0 feet or minus 0.3 feet (above the level of most of the silt, not counting a couple of "bumps" such as the ridge under the walkway connecting B and C). It might remain slightly deeper if some 2006 runoff arrives before all the 2005 water has been discharged.

Conditions at other area lakes :
El Vado, elev. 6,873.66', 108,092 acre feet,
Abiquiu, elev. 6,204.02, 124,929 acre feet,
Cochiti, elev. 5,339.73', 48,829 acre feet,

Elephant Butte, elevation 4,330.78', 392,298 acre feet, minimal discharge. The lake is rising. Elephant Butte Lake reached its low point for the season between 7:00 and 9:00 AM on Tuesday, October 11, 2005, at an elevation of 4,325.28', 332,602 acre feet. It has since risen 5 feet 8.4 inches (68") and 59,696 acre feet in 55 days (as of Mon., Dec. 5, 2005).


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