Irrigation Season

EBID Updated Irrigation Outlook – April 2021

Karen Ray

April is always a critical decision making month across the Elephant Butte Irrigation District and this year is no exception. At the April 14th EBID board of directors meeting, District leaders heard updates by Dr. Phil King, EBID’s Hydrology and Engineering consultant, and Irrigation Systems Director James Narvaez on the expected surface water irrigation outlook.

King noted that Elephant Butte Reservoir inflow has “plummeted” and combined storage in both Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs is about 247,000 AF, an increase of 27,000 AF over last month.

While data show “La Niña is softening up – likely transitioning to ENSO –neutral conditions in May-July”. Three month climate outlook models predict “dryer than typical and definitely hotter than typical” precipitation and temperatures according to King. The District and its agricultural producers should  continue to plan for a critically short year with an allotment of four inches or less.

The initial surface water allotment will be determined at the May EBID board of directors meeting and will likely based on the May 1st allocation figures. The Board approved a late start with an official water release date of June 1st and scheduled the single flat rate irrigation weekend for June 5-6.

Narvaez reassured the board while presenting a comparison to 2013, a previous difficult water year, “We’ve done this before with a 4 inch allotment.” He noted that the District learned during this earlier experience that “it is better to operate based on demand”.  This time, they have high tech software that aids in the entire surface water management and delivery process, from one of the District to the other.

During this critically short water year EBID cannot stress strongly enough the need for agricultural producers to get their water orders in before June 1. The  Water Records Department will be open for orders Monday May 17th during regular business hours 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can be reached at (575) 526-6671 Option #6.

By bulking up farm deliveries and running them fast the District will be able to minimize the fill and dry cycle in the canals, greatly improving delivery efficiency. This is where farmers’ cooperation is vital. Narvaez stressed that it is critical to push to get water orders in, “Every day we wait we lose water”.

EBID and its members have worked well together in previous hard times. They plan on pulling together again to wisely maximize this year’s critically short water supply to continue producing the agricultural products our region depends on.


Photo caption/credit: Opening the gate that allows water to flow into the field from irrigation ditch. (September 1936, photographer- Rothstein, Arthur)New Mexico. United States, Library of Congress: