Friday, June 02, 2006

Elephant Butte Lake Conditions and Predictions

Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico continues to shrink as the irrigation season goes on. However, there's a slight bit of good news; today the rate of water release decreased from 1520 cubic feet per second to 1120 c.f.s.

Lake level is 4322.26 feet above benchmark, with 301,892 acre feet of water remaining in the lake.

This is a decrease of about 9 inches and 7,400 acre feet in 72 hours.

According to the operations plan, the lake should be at 4,322.35 and 302,756 acre feet and releasing 1450 c.f.s. until 12 June, when the rate would go up to 2,000 c.f.s. This plan projects the lake to have,

on June 30 207,612 a.f. at elevation 4,311.67;
on July 4th the lake would be at 192,113 a.f. and 4,309.63 feet;
on July 31st the lake would be at 89,437 a.f. and 4,292.97 a.f.

However, this assumes continuous outflow of 2,000 c.f.s., which is not currently the case, and essentially no inflow (2,000 a.f. in June and 1,000 a.f. in July). Better runoff, seepage, and summer rains could delay the predicted low-water date.

It is not yet known when or if the marinas might have to move, though lake levels in the 4,294 to 4,298 foot level would likely require some significant adjustments and place a burden upon the state parks rangers to allocate more resource to boat ramp clearing and improvement.


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