A good year on the Rio Grande

We ended up with 1.2 million acre feet of water flowing down the Rio Grande past Albuquerque this year, according to my quick and dirty calculations based on the USGS Central Avenue gauge. That would be the biggest flow through town since 1995.

graph showing high 2019 flow through Albuquerque on the Rio Grande

Rio Grande total flow

That’s 42 percent above the long term mean (this gauge’s data goes back to 1966, the first full year at the site) and nearly double the 21st century mean. Here’s the hydrograph of a good year on the Rio Grande.

Elephant Butte reservoir, the biggest storage on the Rio Grande, ended 2019 with ~557,000 acre feet, the most at years’ end since 2008, but still hovering around “drought of the ’50s” levels (which as you can see really stretched from the 1940s into the 1970s).

Elephant Butte storage, data via USBR

Not sure where we ended up in terms of meeting our Rio Grande Compact delivery obligation to folks downstream, but I’m speaking in a week at the annual New Mexico Water Dialogue, I’ll track down the answer and report back here.

And finally one of my favorite water measures, the aquifer beneath my house was up more than 3 feet in 2019. This is one of the metrics that, as I watched it over time, finally began to persuade me that not all was doom and gloom:

The aquifer rising beneath John Fleck’s house