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Tue Dec 11, 2012, 02:40 PM

Elephant Butte Reservoir Up A Bit From Eight-Year Low On September 4th - 5% Full @ 109,445 Acre-feet

LAS CRUCES — The bathtub-like rings around Elephant Butte Lake’s water level state the obvious: the lake is low — really low — because of the drought that has diminished snowpack runoff flowing down the Rio Grande. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that downstream results for the lake near Truth or Consequences include higher irrigation pumping costs for farmers and loss of favorite fishing spots for recreational users.

“It’s difficult times, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better, at least for now,” said Gary Esslinger, manager of the Las Cruces-based Elephant Butte Irrigation District. On the other hand, some kayakers said the lower level of the lake that parallels a stretch of Interstate 25 is no problem for them. “It just makes the beach bigger,” said David Davilla, a kayaker from Truth or Consequences.

The lake hit an eight-year low on Sept. 4 when it was 5 percent full, with an elevation of 4,297 feet and a water volume of 109,445 acre-feet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. An acre-foot contains about 326,000 gallons. The last time the lake was that low was in 2004, another period of drought, when the elevation was 4,294 feet, officials said.

Including 2012, there have been 19 years over the Elephant Butte Lake’s nearly century-old history in which the level has been as low as this year, according to the reclamation bureau.



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