Farmers received a bleak forecast for the 2019 irrigation season at the December Elephant Butte Irrigation District Board of Directors meeting. Dr. Phil King, water resources specialist for the District, noted that total usable project storage currently sits at just 118,563 acre feet. “The bottom line is we’re at 5% storage in Elephant Butte; we’re looking at a late May, early June release,” he said, “and are anticipating only a 4-8 inch final allotment. It is bleak.”
He said he does not expect the District to much water to make an initial allotment until March. Winter snowpack in the project headwaters will develop over the next few months to provide the runoff so desperately needed by agricultural producers in the region. Basically, we will be living on inflow and allotting it as it arrives. He emphasized that it is crucial that farmers have this information now to help them plan their early season groundwater use.
According to the National Weather Service, we are in an El Nino watch with an 80% chance of this weather pattern developing. However, King is not optimistic about the development of a wetter than average pattern for us here in southern New Mexico. We have endured 16 years of drought and it looks as if this upcoming year will continue to bring further challenges with low water supplies. However, EBID and its member farmers are deeply committed to ensuring that every drop of water is used wisely in the production of food and fiber within the District.