Saturday, July 09, 2011

Still too dry

Although a few rain showers have finally reached New Mexico and brought relief to fire fighters, it's still frightfully dry.

Heron Lake in far northern New Mexico is still receiving some runoff, about 200 cubic feet per second and rising almost an inch a day,with 301,395 acre feet and 7,167.77 feet elevation above sea level (2300 Fri. night 8 July 2011). That's three-quarters full, which is not too bad for a drought year.

Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico is not doing nearly so well.

The Butte fell a foot in the past three days with only about an eighth of its nominal capacity and its elevation is several feet below operating plan predictions. With 257,384 acre-feet of water and an elevation above benchmark of 4,318.47 feet (0200 Sat. am 9 July 2011), the lake is getting to a point where park managers can advertise a great deal of beach -- but not as many places for sailors to explore.

Our reference point for really low conditions was around 2004. At one point, the lake got down to about 4294 feet elevation and around six percent of capacity. That was a low enough level to impact some of the boat ramps and make navigation of the lake challenging. We're hoping the lake stays well above that level this year.


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