After a long, long wait Rio Grande water is once again running in the 264 miles of irrigation canals networked across the Elephant Butte Irrigation District from Hatch to El Paso, Texas. It’s part of the rhythm of our seasons and brings welcome respite from the 100 degree temperatures that turned up suddenly this week. Perhaps only us truly New Mexican critters can appreciate the life-giving relief of seeing that water flowing in the canals. I get the same feeling driving along a full irrigation ditch as I do seeing a lovely stream elsewhere. It may not be postcard beautiful but it represents life to us.
Farmers in the Hatch and Rincon Valleys joined the irrigation season a little earlier than the southern part of the District. Now everyone is in full swing with the central Mesilla valleys and the lower valley busily turning water into fruits, nuts and vegetables as well as your favorite blue jeans and that cool summer t-shirt. Have you ever thought about all the different ways that nutrient laden surface water benefits you? Yes, it grows a variety of plant materials used to produce and make the things we need to survive, but it also impacts the economy throughout the District.
Everyone connected with the work of a farm or dairy must shop for food, clothing and other needed essentials in addition to non-essential items like entertainment. Just like everyone else, they spend money on school salaries with the taxes they pay into the education system; they spend at the auto repair shop, the gas station and the grocery store. In countless ways the dollars invested in agriculture are spread and filtered throughout the economic system.
During the dry winter months, District employees worked to finish maintenance projects, piping canals, re-shaping ditches and cleaning out drains. They worked doing everything possible to maximize the delivery efficiency of the available surface water during the continuing severe drought.
For the next 60 days or so, employees and staff of EBID will be working with singular focus on delivering surface water from Elephant Butte Reservoir, down to Caballo Dam and out into the closely monitored system of laterals and canals that take it to members’ fields and orchards. They do all this while working long hours to maintain safe and efficient operations.
You can help EBID by staying safe around the open water in the canals. It is moving faster than you realize and the suction under the gates is extremely dangerous. Talk to your kids about the dangers so they aren’t tempted to get in the canals. Run the sprinkler on a dry patch of lawn or take them to the public pool, don’t swim in the ditch.
EBID employees are good at what they do. After all, the District has been responsible for delivering surface water resources for 100 years. Next time you see a ditchrider or a farmer give them a smile and a wave, they are working hard on our behalf.