Spring is here and coincides with Elephant Butte Irrigation District’s 2018 irrigation season. The District’s Board of Directors met for their regularly scheduled board meeting on March 14. Projected runoff, storage and surface water analysis from staff and consultants helped determine the surface water allotment for 2018. Based on current total project storage of 537, 391 acre feet and a total project allocation of 465,492 acre feet the Board set an initial allotment of ten inches (10″) per acre to be delivered to EBID members. That allotment is not expected to increase as limited spring runoff is predicted. EBID’s consultant Dr. Phil King, PE, quipped, “To date, the headwaters of the Rio Grande have received one good snow. We could use a little more.”
As has been typical during the lingering drought, King said the short term climate outlook forecasts below average precipitation and warmer conditions for the next three months. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows increasing drought and the Rio Grande headwaters are designated in extreme drought conditions. Board President Robert Faubion noted that the water budget planning tool that Irrigation Systems Director James Narvaez has developed based on years of experience is an accurate planning aid.
Growers Meetings will be as follows:
North Valley: Hatch on Monday, March 26 from 8 – 10 a.m. at the Hatch Community Center, 837 Highway 187, Hatch, NM.
South Valley: Anthony on Monday, May 14, 2018 from 8-10 a.m. at the Anthony Country Club, 2100 Ohara Rd, Anthony, NM.
Central Valley: Las Cruces on Monday, May 14 from 1:30 ΓÇô 3:30 p.m. at the Grapevine Event Center, 3900 W. Picacho Ave. Las Cruces, NM.
Discussion topics will include the 2018 surface water allocation, legal updates, winter maintenance and construction activity.
Tentative release dates, contingent on water orders, are as follows:
April 2, 2018 – Farm Rate Water Orders accepted for the North Valley (Hatch/Rincon)
April 15, 2018 – Release date for the North Valley
May 21, 2018 – Water Orders accepted for the Central and South Valleys
June 1, 2018 – Release date for the Central and South Valleys
* Flat rate irrigation dates will be determined at a future time
The end of the 2018 irrigation season will depend on demand, monsoon, and other factors. Given current conditions the District expects another short 60 day season.
Farmers are encouraged to provide a “ready date” and place their water orders as early as possible to facilitate efficient watering. Delays in placing surface water orders will reduce the opportunity to receive water. Members must be prepared to receive their water when it is available. Dr. King said, “It’s important for farmers to focus on using their surface water as soon as their crops demand it in the delivery season. As we get later in the release season the possibility of us running out of surface water and shutting down gets larger. So it’s sort of a use it or lose it type situation. This will also help them be clear on how much groundwater they can pump if they know they’ve used all their surface water.”
Water orders can be placed beginning April 2 for the North Valley. Remember, members can now order online through the Farmer Services tab on the EBID website at www.ebid-nm.org. Farmers may also place water orders by contacting the EBID Water Records Department at 524-8003 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please refer to the EBID website www.ebid-nm.org for important updates during the irrigation season.