The Arch Hurley Conservancy District opened the gates Tuesday to send water to the district’s canals and ditches from Conchas Lake for the first time in three years.
Franklin McCasland, district manager, said Tuesday the water would take 24 to 40 hours to reach Tucumcari.
McCasland said that spread across the district’s 42,000 acres of farmland in Quay County, the first allocation will make about nine inches of water available for each acre, about half of the first allocation in a normal year. If conditions remain favorable, he said, a second allocation should occur on July 1.
McCasland said water was being discharged into the district’s canals Tuesday at a rate of 150 cubic feet per second.
For three years, drought conditions have kept Conchas Lake’s level below the elevation at which allocations to Arch Hurley customers would be allowed. Conchas Lake is the district’s only source of irrigation water.
In late summer and early fall 2013, a series of storms in Eastern New Mexico last year dumped 4 to 5 inches on some parts of Quay and San Miguel counties, raising the level of Conchas Lake more than 20 feet.
The Arch Hurley board acknowledged there was enough water in the lake in September, but voted not to release water then in favor of a spring release for crops.
District members told the board at that time there was enough water in the ground from rainfall now to start a wheat crop and have it take hold and urged the board to delay the release until spring.
The allocations for spring and summer were expected to be about 36,000 acre feet each.