Rio Grande irrigation water reaches Las Cruces

Elephant Butte Lake

LAS CRUCES (AP) – Water released from reservoirs along the Rio Grande has passed through the Las Cruces area faster than expected, signaling the river channel is wetter because of local precipitation.

The dam at Caballo Reservoir was opened Saturday and by Sunday afternoon, the water was rolling by Las Cruces and was well on its way to El Paso, Texas.

Federal water managers tell the Las Cruces Sun-News that they had to dial back the volume of water being released because they were about a day ahead of schedule.

Officials say the water traveling faster means less of it was soaking into the river bed due to increased precipitation. The water table is also higher, possibly thanks to an improved irrigation season last year.

With less water soaking in, officials say more will be available for irrigation.

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