October Starts EBID Water Year

Karen Ray

Break out the party hats and resolutions! No, wait, wrong New Year’s! For Elephant Butte Irrigation District, October marks the start of a new water year. The active surface water irrigation season has finished and the District reviews what was, what is, and what is expected to be. It’s also the beginning of the District’s rigorous maintenance season. The surface water world can be a complex place at times.

Dr. Phil King, EBID’s Water Resources engineer, brings a monthly “state of the union” type address on the water resources outlook to the District’s nine elected board members. These board directors represent each precinct across the District to provide fair representation and oversight. Every fall, after the surface water irrigation season closes, numbers must be crunched and water accounting reconciled. The final 2021 accounting is pending as It takes several weeks until all the data is in from the three involved parties, EBID, El Paso District #1 (EP1), and Reclamation.

Total usable project storage in Elephant Butte Reservoir and Caballo is just under 124,000 acre feet. An acre foot is equal to the volume of a sheet of water one acre in area and one foot in depth; 43,560 cubic feet. King expressed grave concern at this “bleak” statistic. “Next year will have a late, probably June 1 or so, release and low allotment again,” he predicted.

The NOAA forecast for December through February shows that La Nina conditions have developed, with their trademark dryer precipitation forecast for our area that will very likely persist through winter. “We have to wait and see on the snowpack,” King said, “We don’t start taking it seriously until after mid-December.”

The District expects to run another “fast and furious” surface water irrigation season next year, just as they did this year. King said it will be tough all around and EP1and Mexico will be on a similarly shortened season.

District managers, staff, and employees will put the dry season to good use maintaining canals, installing additional piping to increase efficiency, and generally tightening up the system. Although water only runs in the canals and ditches seasonally, the entire delivery and drain system must be maintained year round. Some “housekeeping” chores can only be done in the winter when that system is dry.

Thanks to the District’s farmer members and the community for your support and cooperation. You can follow EBID on Facebook and visit this website throughout the year for updates.