EBID Sets Initial Water AllotmentKaren Ray for EBID
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Elephant Butte Irrigation District's board of directors set an initial surface water allotment of eight inches (8'') for the 2018 irrigation season with limited expectations for an increase during their January 17 monthly Board of Directors meeting. The tentative release date was set between May 1 and May 15, which will be refined as the season develops. Further details will be announced later as more information becomes available.
EBID consultant Dr. Phil King discussed the outlook for the District as weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean continue to remain in La Nina status with warmer temperatures and less precipitation. "Spring runoff forecast is at a record low and the snowpack is dismal," he reported. While current river flows in the Rio Grande are decent they are expected to taper off. EBID's share of the available surface water stored in Elephant Butte and the reservoir sits at about 108,000 acre feet, which allows for the eight inch allotment.
EBID will be carefully monitoring the winter snowpack and subsequent runoff in the headwaters of the Rio Grande and will make potential adjustments based on those developments. Keep checking the EBID website for important updates during the Irrigation Season.
Taming Horsetail on the Talbot - EBID Winter MaintenanceKaren Ray for EBID
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Agricultural producer Bobby Kuykendall raises chile, alfalfa, onions, corn and pecan nursery trees. He relies on the Talbot Lateral canal to efficiently deliver water from the District head miles away to his crops in the lower Mesilla Valley close to the state line.
This lateral delivers water not only to his farm but also to seven other growers. He explains the situation earlier this year, "The whole lateral was choked with horsetail. They would mow it but the problem when you mow it is all of the cuttings, go down, get into your turnouts and your ditch boxes, everywhere."
He said not a lot is known about this plant, chemical control and burning have both been tried but because of its segmented nature it's difficult to kill the entire thing. Elephant Butte Irrigation District's Maintenance Director Leo Barrett believes that if native grasses can get a head start on the canal banks they can be effective in choking out the Horsetail.
EBID operators brought equipment in and thoroughly cleaned and reshaped this lateral, a typical part of their winter maintenance activities throughout the extensive District. Kuykendall says, "The amount of water that we can get down the ditch will be increased probably at least three times from where we were in 2017. It checked all that water up and so you were limited in how much water you could turn in off the main to this Talbot Lateral. Now we're going to get head pressure and we're going to get volume."
The faster the water can be moved through the system and delivered to crops the better. If it's slowed down by vegetation that just allows increased evaporation or seepage into the dirt lined canal system. "Where I struggle is you've got a guy standing there (irrigating)," said Kuykendall, "and what might have taken 10 hours when it was clean now its 24 hours so you've got more labor invested." EBID constantly works at maximizing the efficiency of their water delivery system, resulting in both labor and water savings to area producers.
Kuykendall, who has served on the EBID board of directors for six years, describes his farming career in the valley. "I've been farming here 18 years. When I was in high school I went to work for a guy named Ted Cox, Del Norte Seed over here and I worked for him after school and in the summertime and sold seed to all these guys. One day a guy decided that he wanted to retire so I said, "What are you going to do?" He said, "Well just auction the equipment." I said, "Well you're gonna only get 10 cents on the dollar." He'd been in it 35 years. He looked at me, "You got any money?" I said, "No, you're gonna have to finance it. So that's what we did." Reads like a Louis L'Amour book where the older rancher turns his operation over to a young man. Yes, it really does happen.
Wet and dry cycles here in the Southwest are as sure as the beautiful sunrises and sunsets but during this continuing drought Kuykendall says of EBID's role in water delivery, "there's a lot of hats that we have to be wearing, we need to maintain that focus, our main duty is to get irrigation surface water from the lake to the grower's turnout in the most efficient means."
EBID Collaborates with Mesilla on Canal RepairKaren Ray for EBID
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Debbie Lujan, Public Works Department Head for the town of Mesilla, recently provided an update on an infrastructure improvement the town is working on in collaboration with Elephant Butte Irrigation District.
One of Mesilla's main thoroughfares, Calle de Parian, provides access to the post office and the community center. A large culvert in the irrigation canal under this road had been deteriorating. The town had been patching the pavement for some time but concern was expressed about potential failure and flooding during subsequent irrigation seasons. Mesilla's officials discussed this with EBID's board of Directors and worked with District Engineer Zack Libbin and others to replace the culvert and headwalls near the road. Lujan said, "As soon as this season was over they (EBID) started in."
One of the challenges faced by town officials was the culvert's proximity to old buildings and infrastructure. They worked with contractors to try to minimize the vibrations and prevent damage to the surroundings. Lujan said, "It was very challenging because of all the electrical, trying to get the crane out."
EBID installed a longer culvert, improving the safety margins for the headwalls and drivers using the road. The project is almost completed; the town is waiting on removal of an old power pole prior to the construction of the remaining headwall over the culvert on the north side of the road. The canal will once again be able to safely deliver irrigation water to this part of the District.
|Rio Grande wave front north of Hatch, NM at 8:00 pm May 25th, 2014. Photographed by Zack Libbin. This photo and images on the main page were enhanced by Darrol Shillingburg.|