CID gets full water allotment for Carlsbad-area farmers
Local farmers should have plenty of water to grow their crops this year as the Carlsbad Irrigation District (CID) announced a full allotment at the start of the year for the first time in four years.
CID manager Dale Ballard pointed to water stored in four nearby reservoirs allowed for the entire 3.697 acre-foot allotment for 2018, which allows farmers to flood irrigate their fields that many feet deep per acre.
Currently about 174,500 acre feet are stored in the reservoirs, which have a combined capacity of 176,500 acre feet.
"It appears we should have more than enough to provide a full allotment," he said.
Water orders can begin March 5, Ballard said, and deliveries start as soon as orders total at about 100 cubic feet per second.
If orders drop to about 70 CFS, Ballard said the district could shut down until orders recover, depending on the location of the users.
When orders equal or exceed 100 CFS, Ballard said the CID will divert water from the Avalon reservoir, starting on March 12.
"We have to get enough orders to charge the system and get delivering," Ballard said. "We start delivering when the system is charged and ready."
New Mexico recently generated 115,000 acre-feet of water in credit, by exceeding its commitment to provide water to Texas through the Pecos River Compact.
Because of the accumulated credit, the CID is not obligated to deliver extra water for state-line delivery.
Ballard said he does not anticipate sending any water to Texas this year, via the Interstate Stream Commission by recharging into the Pecos River, unless New Mexico is short on deliveries to the Lone Star State.
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"We still operate under normal operating procedures unless New Mexico does not meet its deliveries to Texas," Ballard said.
There were strong rains in 2013 after the growing season, he said, along with a massive flood in 2014.
The summers of 2015, 2016 and 2017 monsoon rains near the reservoirs kept water levels high.
Those events, coupled with monsoon weather in the years since, helped charge the groundwater in southeast New Mexico, Ballard said.
Although the CID has enough water for this year already, Ballard worried that a predicted dry year could mean lower water levels in the future.
"This year will be a good growing year for the farmers," he said. "The bad news is a forecast of a pretty dry year. We haven't had much meaningful rain."
Using up stored water in a dry year puts the district at risk of suffering under future droughts, he said.
"If we use up all that water, we won't have the water to divert next year," Ballard said. "If the reservoirs aren't full. We're really conservative about what we allot at the beginning."
A full allotment at the beginning of the season is rare, Ballard said, as water officials look to avoid reducing water availability later in the year.
"Anytime you get a full allotment, it's a good year," he said. "We've had some good years. We'll see if that continues."
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.