Conchas Lake water level rises

William Thompson

Due to rains within the last ten days, the water level of Conchas Lake has risen about one foot, according to Paul Fishell, Conchas Lake Park Manager.

“The higher water level is noticeable to regular visitors to the park, but infrequent visitors probably would not be able to tell, just by looking, that the water level is up,” said Fishell. “We are still 38 feet below normal.” Fishell said that boating hazards have been reduced with the higher water level.
“Boaters will notice a difference because rocks that were just below the surface are now a lot lower,” said Fishell. “Despite our overall low level of water, we now have plenty of space for safe boating, and fishing is a lot better this year than the past couple of years.”

Fishell said that boaters should be cautious when nearing the shore of the lake. “We have buoys along the center channel,” he said. “As long as boaters stay somewhat near those buoys, they won’t have any problems the entire length of the lake.” Fishell said that much more rain is needed before Conchas Lake will be back to normal. “It would either take three straight years of 200 percent snowpack above normal in the Raton mountains, or a year or more of somewhat heavy snow in winter with heavy rains in the spring to get us back up to normal water level,” he said.
Fishell said that, realistically speaking, it will probably take about six years of above average rainfall to restore the lake to its normal level.

“We probably won’t get back to normal in the very near future,” he said. “but back in the 1960’s, when the water level was as low as it is now, heavy rains filled the lake back up to normal in just two weeks.” he said. Fishell said that despite the low water level, visitation is up a little from last year at the park. “Our visitation hasn’t increased as much as Ute Lake’s,” said Fishell, “but regulars who notice that our level is up a little begin to tell others, so I think more visitors will start coming to the park due to the extra foot of water we gained in the last ten days.”

Fishell said that higher water levels will be good for more than just visitors to the lake. “When the water level is high, it’s a win-win situation for everybody,” said Fishell. “When the level is high, the Arch Hurley Conservancy District can begin using the lake water to irrigate farms.”