The great emptiness of Elephant Butte Reservoir

Elephant Butte Reservoir storage, 1915-present

Elephant Butte Reservoir storage, 1915-present

The New Mexico water nerd joke is that Elephant Butte Reservoir is where we spread our water out to dry. Everybody probably has the same joke?

Built from 1911-1916, it’s one of the first federal reclamation projects, storing Rio Grande water for irrigation in southern New Mexico and Texas. It’s one of those reservoirs that we pretty much run down to empty periodically, as we did during much of the “drought of the ’50s”, which as you can see really stretched from the 1940s into the late ‘7os.

We’ve done it again. It ended the 2015 water year with 183,134 acre feet of water, 9 percent of capacity.

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the chiste. Sadly enough, the statement is true of almost all reservoirs. There are only draconian solutions.

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