Elephant Butte Irrigation District Receives Federal Grant for Real-Time Data Gathering at Leasburg Canal

Cassie McClure

Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID) received $94,710 as part of a $7 million investment delivered to the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Projects in 14 western states were selected for funding, and EBID’s project was selected for New Mexico.

“We work closely with our stakeholders to manage water resources,” said Jennifer Faler, BOR Albuquerque Area Office Manager. “Thisfunding through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allows us to assist our stakeholders in realizing actual water savings, which is a benefit to all of us as we cooperate to maximize our limited water supplies.”

“This project will allow the district to leverage existing funds for needed improvements and will enable greater efficiency to our downstream water deliveries,” said Dr. Patrick Sullivan, EBID Manager.

EBID, located in the Mesilla and Rincon Valleys, will install two electric motor actuators to an existing check structure and construct a new metering station in the Leasburg Main Canal. The automated metering station improvements will allow the district better control diversion flow rates, upstream water pressure, and downstream flow.

“The main benefit to the users of the system is this type of gate automation, and flow monitoring ensures we deliver Rio Grande Project order water as efficiently as possible,” said Patrick Lopez, EBID SCADA Systems Director. “The gate automation will adjust every 10 minutes to make sure the upstream water (pressure) of the check remains at a constant level. That is ideal for accurate flow delivery downstream of the check. It is critical that we deliver as close to the project order amount to ensure we are not over or under-delivering our farmer's water allotment.”

 Lopez continued, “Downstream of the check, we will deploy an acoustic doppler channel profiler, which can measure the water level, calculate the water area of the channel, and track water velocity. Doppler technology has increased our flow monitoring accuracy while alerting EBID field personnel to issues such as gate plugs or drops in the water delivery flow in a shorter time. Flow rates can be checked every 30 minutes through our website, and field personnel will receive alarm texts alerting them to decreases in water level or flow.”

 “Persistent drought has led to significantly reduced surface water allotment for our farmers, which creates a critical need for accurate and reliable surface water monitoring,” said Lopez. “Our goal is to deliver the water we do have as efficiently as possible. The Remote Telemetry Unit system is designed to aid in that goal by creating a near-real-time data system to assist our field personnel.”

The EBID project will accomplish priorities identified in the Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Plan and 2017 Regional Water Plan as a Strategy to Preserve Agriculture to maximize the benefit of the Rio Grande Project surface water. EBID will match the funding with at least a 50 percent non-federal cost share.

 “Supporting critical infrastructure, especially for the water systems in New Mexico, is essential to ensuring our state has reliable water supplies, especially in the face of droughts,” said U.S. Representative Gabe Vasquez.

 Across the West, 82 small-scale water efficiency projects were selected to receive funding. The grants support local community projects, including measuring water flow, automating water delivery, or lining canals. The funding is part of the $1 billion provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the WaterSMART program. The program supports states, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and avoid potential water conflicts.