From the morning paper, a report on the April Rio Grande runoff forecast plunging off a cliff:
Gary Esslinger’s chosen profession, delivering irrigation water to southern New Mexico farmers, looks like some sort of cruel joke these days.
The latest punch line came this week in the form the federal government’s April Rio Grande runoff forecast, which calls for just 29 percent of normal spring and summer runoff into Elephant Butte Reservoir.
That’s the reservoir that supplies water to farmers in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, in the Hatch and Mesilla valleys of southern New Mexico. Esslinger, the district’s general manager, faces the unhappy task of going back to his farmers next week and telling them to expect even less than the meager allotment they had been counting on.
“The business that I’m in, of supplying surface water, is kinda like going out of business,” Esslinger said Thursday.
Blame the wind, record-breaking warmth, and very low humidity of the latter half of March for the early loss/melt of the northern NM snowpack. Peak flow on the Jemez River nr Jemez Pueblo was approx 450 cfs on 4/24, about 3-4 weeks earlier than normal. http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwisweb/graph?agency_cd=USGS&site_no=08324000&parm_cd=00060&period=24
The April 2-3 storm helped some from the mid RG Valley into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains but not so much in the southern San Juan Mtns.
Oops…Jemez River peak flow occurred 3/24 (not 4/24 as mentioned above)