San Juan-Chama project shortfall (trust me, it’s good news!)

For the second year in a row, New Mexico’s San Juan-Chama Project contractors (the biggest of which are the Albuquerque and Santa Fe metro areas) won’t get their full allocation of Colorado River Basin transboundary deliveries this year. But with the amazingly wet May and June, it could have been a whole lot worse.

I’m going to be on the Children’s Hour on KUNM tomorrow (Albuquerque public radio), so I’ve popped for a couple of days into “journalist” mode and made a round of calls to my New Mexico water posse to see how things are going. People are near giddy over the wet weather, because things looked like they were going to be so awful this year. But I’m also getting repeated reminders that while, yes, things are good, we still have some deep problems.

The Azotea Tunnel, which carries San Juan-Chama Project water, is running full right now, at a point in the year when it is usually dropping toward a trickle:

Azotea Tunnel, courtesy  CDWR

Azotea Tunnel, courtesy CDWR

The mid-June allocation for SJC contractors was 50 percent of normal, but that was based on the June 1 water supply. We’ve continued to get more since then, so it now looks like the final allocation could be more like 70 percent or more. That’s great news compared to where things were a couple of months ago (I lost a bet based on thinking the April allocations would merely be bad, when in fact they were awful). No longer awful, but worth remembering that at 70 percent, this is only the second year in history that San Juan-Chama contractors haven’t gotten a full allocation.

Last year was the first. Drought is deep, and a wet spring and early summer isn’t enough to fix it.