Saturday, August 12, 2006

4316, or the ups and downs of a New Mexico Lake

Weekend update -- Friday evening we launched Black Magic, but not before encountering rain and darkness. Saturday, after running errands and shopping seventeen miles up the road in Chama, we finally got to the marina and managed a bit of sailing before the weather closed in upon us, and encouraged us to make a quick run down the Narrows back to the marina. Back at the marina, I finished buttoning up the boats while CA and Tad mixed up a salad and grilled up some chicken quarters and fresh corn on the cob.

Heron has come down about an inch in the last 24 hours but is up just a hair for the past 72 hours. Water is still flowing in, but also seems to be released just as fast.

The big water news is at Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico, which is coming up very nicely and is doing far better than the scary predictions we'd heard earlier in the year. The Butte is 16 feet higher than had been predicted for this date, so the extreme low-water predictions for later this fall are probably also no longer valid.

Here's a summary of the Butte's ups and downs, with elevations given in feet above benchmark elevation, and storage in acre feet.

4334.06 ' . . . 430,410 a.f., January 1, 2006 -- 22% of capacity but very good sailing conditions

4339.88 ' . . . 503,030 a.f., March 5, 2006 -- High for the year

4311.06 ' . . . 202,870 a.f., July 7

4313.00 ' . . . 218,130 a.f., July 14 -- Lake recovered two feet due to rains

4308.50 ' . . . 183,870 a.f., July 28 -- Lake went back down due to irrigation demand

4316.00 ' . . . 243,307 a.f., August 12 -- Lake went back up 7.5 feet in two weeks -- a phenomenal recovery for August, when more typically the lake would have gone down by that much instead.

The prediction, based on expected demand and no significant rainfall:
4299.41 ' . . . 123,851 a.f. The reality is 16-1/2 feet and 119,500 a.f. above the projection.
This gives significant reason to believe that that prediction of 4286.56 ' and 62,816 a.f. on Aug. 31 will not happen and that our late summer/early fall low point will be better than that.


At 12:10 AM, August 14, 2006, Blogger Pat said...

LJ has spoken with WT of the Bureau of Reclamation; the low point for Elephant Butte should be 4305 feet above benchmark elevation even if the heavy rains don't continue. Sounds good to me. Just hope the farmers get that chile crop harvested quickly so we can put an end to irrigation season and enjoy fresh chile rellenos.


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