Serving the High Plains

Conchas Lake saw meager inflow in November

Conchas Lake set a sort of dubious recent record for meager inflow of water.

Franklin McCasland, manager of the Arch Hurley Conservancy District, reported to the board of directors during its Dec. 12 meeting that just 154 acre-feet of inflow into Conchas Lake was recorded in November.

McCasland said that was the lowest monthly inflow he’d seen in his 15 years as as manager.

Evaporation and other losses from the lake totaled 1,749 acre-feet during the month.

The lake’s elevation fell 0.3 feet, to 4,172 feet, on Dec. 12 compared to the month before.

That still was more than 8 1/2 feet higher than a year ago — mostly because of a big storm system in late May.

Between that higher level and rain or snow forecasted in the region that week, board member Larry Perkins expressed optimism that farmers might receive more irrigation water in the spring.

“That’s as high as we’ve started in a lot of years,” he said.

Almost all of New Mexico remained in drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map of Dec. 14. Extreme and exceptional drought conditions were seen in the southern and northwest parts of the state, though widespread rain in the state last week likely eased the severity.

— Also in his manager’s report, McCasland said the district’s maintenance crew was replacing the Keefer and Wheeler lateral north of Tucumcari with PVC pipe.

“This will eliminate over two miles of open ditch and save AHCD on maintenance upkeep and evaporation,” the report stated. “It will increase the delivery efficiency in this area to the farmers.”

— McCasland reviewed delivery efficiency data during this summer and fall’s water allocation. He said evaporation losses fell during the fall as hot weather eased.

Board member John Griffiths asked McCasland to look for a federal or state grant that would pay for a pipeline throughout the district that would reduce evaporation losses.

— The board approved McCasland’s proposal to issue a request for proposals for new fuel tanks for the district. He said he would want a tank that stores at least 5,000 gallons of diesel and 3,000 gallons of gasoline.

— The board approved its list of holidays for 2024 and kept its rates for custom work the same as this year.