Colorado River water released | Local news
The Department of the Interior and seven states of the Colorado River Basin will implement a drought contingency plan for all states signed in 2019.
New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are located in the upper basin states and must take action to respond to droughts. That response will come in the form of the clearance from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation New Mexico, which is releasing approximately 181,000 acres of water from the Flaming Gorge, Aspinall and Navajo Reservoirs between August and December 2021.
Flaming Gorge is on the central Utah-Arizona border. The Aspinall Reservoir is said to be the largest body of water in Colorado. Navajo Lake is located in northwest New Mexico.
The reasons for the publications are twofold. It will protect the water level at Lake Powell so that it can continue to fulfill a “centuries-old treaty” for water and the Lake Powell generating station can meet its electricity needs.
A June 18 article in the Wall Street Journal stated that Lake Powell is the primary reservoir that feeds Lake Mead, Nevada, where the Hoover Dam is located. The power plant there is one of the largest in the country and can produce enough electricity to supply around 1.3 million people.
“About 23 percent of its production goes to Nevada and 19 percent to Arizona,” the article reads. “Most of the rest serves Southern California.”
New Mexico State Engineer John R. D’Antonio said in the press release: “New Mexicans benefit from the electricity generated at Lake Powell and from its direct income. While it is disappointing to see the hydrology deteriorating in this basin, states have been preparing for this very difficult time over several years. “
Kristina Eckert of the New Mexico State Engineer’s Office wrote in an August 18 email that 20,000 acre-feet would be released from the Navajo Reservoir in November and December.
“The late fall releases from Navajo (reservoir) will not affect New Mexico water users as they will occur after the irrigation season ends,” she wrote. “Also, even if 20,000 acres are released, the Navajo Reservoir will remain at levels above the critical intake level for water supplies to the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project.
She also said the drought emergency response to date will not affect the amount of water available to the San Juan-Chama Project, which is a major source of irrigation water for users of the upper and middle Rio Grande.
“The water level in the rivers above the Navajo Reservoir is only affected by the effects of drought, not drought emergencies,” she wrote.