Monday, June 12, 2006

New Mexico Sailing Club and Heron Lake Update

Heron Lake, New Mexico, is up 3.7 inches and 1,172 acre feet in 72 hours. The lake is at 7143.13' elevation, with 192,033 acre feet of water. Water continues to flow in from Willow Creek and the Azotea Tunnel, though at a reduced rate of about 125 cubic feet per second. Water has been flowing through the tunnel at 77 to 302 cfs, and through the creek at 77 to 328 cfs. By content, Heron is New Mexico's third largest lake, with about 70% as much water as Elephant Butte Lake in southern NM.

Elephant Butte Lake has dropped 10 inches and lost 7,808 acre feet in 72 hours.
The Butte is at 4319.48' above benchmark with 274,939 acre feet.

Content of New Mexico lakes, in acre-feet, as of Monday, June 12, 2006
1,498,682 Navajo
. . 274,939 Elephant Butte
. . 192,033 Heron
. . 158,752 Abiquiu
. . 131,962 Conchas
. . 104,852 El Vado
. . . 48,867 Cochiti
. . . 37,083 Santa Rosa
. . . 36,207 Eagle Nest
. . . 19,247 Brantley
. . . . . 801 Avalon

On Sunday, the Santa Fe New Mexican published a somewhat doom-and-gloom story, "Tapped Out"by Staci Matlock (, which cited a projection that Heron would be down to 165,000 acre feet on Labor Day, El Vado down to 30,000 a.f., and the Butte down to 75,000 a.f. These projections seem lower than expected and I'm trying to track where they came from and find out whether they're very accurate and up to date or maybe instead represent some sort of worst-case scenario. Even with these projections, it looks like Heron will be one of the best places to go sailing in the southwest this summer.

NOTE: I had an e-mail conversation with the reporter, Staci Matlock; her data was from the B.O.R./State Engineer's press release at the end of April. So, it's probably not the latest and greatest info and the B.O.R. should have more recent info.

At the Heron Lake marina this weekend we had a work party pull some cables and an anchor as a test of the new electric winch - - it did wonders - - , held a dinner potluck attended by about 20 people, and had a few more boats coming into the marina. Sailing was also good on both Saturday and Sunday, with nice breezes.

At the meeting late Saturday morning, the club discussed and decided several issues.

One decision was to allow month-to-month rentals with some restrictions. The rate will be $180 plus tax, plus $25 to join the club, and the rental will be limited to two months maximum. The rate was kept high enough so as to make sure that long-term slip renters would not be put at a disadvantage.

Another was about the future of the marina. The club decided to try to extend the usability of the marina by making B and C docks more like A dock. The idea is to add corner bracing where the finger piers join the mainwalk as well as additional anchoring and some better floats while getting rid of the substructure, starting at the end of B dock.

If this works well, then the marina would be usable in shallower water than it now requires, and would be less subject to damage and need less effort to prepare for groundings and restore to service after a grounding.

At the same time, which was also part of the motion that passed, we would still pursue the approvals and plans for moving the marina into the main lake, so that if moving becomes necessary, we would be prepared and able to move. We will also want to address the issue of being able to move the marina back to Willow Creek Cove if the club wants to do so someday if and when the lake becomes full again.

The work that will be done on B and C docks this season will also help us in case we do have to move the marina. One of the important points of the discussion was the need, if we move the marina, to also work on boat ramps and access. Being able to keep boats in the water is only good if we can also get them in and out. We'll need to work on ramp maintenance and improvements with the New Mexico State Parks.

One thing that was put off was installing the long gangway. With the lake only coming up a few more feet and then going down, even after moving it to the point it would still be very steep. Plus it would cost quite a bit of money to prepare floats, a landing, and hire a crane to install it. Instead, we'll continue to improve the trail and likely put in a new switchback and more ropes, posts, and lights. With advance notice, we can also arrange to have a volunteer meet people at the boat ramp with a boat to help ferry people or heavy gear to the marina. Also, one of our board members has proposed that we move part of the old docks to the proposed new marina site to be able to use it as a working dock and staging area for any future work at the new site.

One action that will need to be done at some point is improving the platform / float upon which the dock house sits. The dockhouse is listing to the south and probably isn't well supported.

Other things that will likely be done eventually may include putting a shed up for the pumpout, generator, and a porta-potti, widening the ABC connecting walkway, and, when the marina is on the hard, attempting to excavate part of the ridge that causes the BC connecting walkway to buckle during low water. Pat


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