Texas Farmers to get 50%
Drought still makes for cautious season
El Paso Times
The El Paso and Elephant Butte
irrigation district boards will raise their water allotments for
area farmers by about 50 percent today, but it'll still be another
tough season as the river drought persists.
In a normal, non-drought year, the
El Paso district delivers four acre-feet of water to farmers and
small-tract owners along the Rio Grande. An acre-foot equals
325,829 gallons, or about enough water to supply the needs of two
households for a year.
"Our first allocation was 12
inches an acre, and we'll probably go to 18 inches at this
meeting, and I feel confident we will wind up with 24 this
summer," said Jesus "Chuy" Reyes, interim general
manager of the El Paso County Water Improvement District No.1.
That's better, but it's still not
good, said Jimmy Britton, a retired Clint-area farmer who now
rents his remaining 75 acres to a neighboring farmer, John Witte.
"We're all laying out some of
our land and not farming it, saving the water to use on the land
we are farming," Britton said. "Everyone's having to cut
back and supplementing their irrigation with wells."
Asked what the year looks like now,
he said, "It's still a little early to tell, but it's been
such a cool spring, the cotton's not growing and the winds have
dried it out. Right now, it doesn't look good."
The boards that oversee the two
irrigation districts served by Elephant Butte and Caballo Lake
reservoirs will be adjusting their allotments to farmers and the
city of El Paso based on the Bureau of Reclamation's May monthly
estimate of the Rio Grande water that will reach Elephant Butte
A full allotment in Doņa Ana
County's Elephant Butte Irrigation District is three acre-feet,
but the district's general manager, Gary Esslinger, said he
expects the board will raise the water allocation to 13 to 15
inches an acre today.
El Paso's Water Utilities usually
gets about half of the city's water from the Rio Grande, but that
has also been sharply reduced by the snow drought in the mountains
of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.
The city has drilled 12 new wells
and has gone back to 11 and is heavy on new groundwater and
conservation to make it until June, said the utility's
spokeswoman, Karol Parker.
"Our plan is to use well water
until they start releasing the water we have coming later this
month," Parker said.