2024 Irrigation Season Starts Feb 26

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Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Announces Start of 2024 Irrigation Season

Water managers will begin charging the irrigation system on February 26


Albuquerque, NM – Water managers at the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District are preparing for the upcoming irrigation season in the middle valley, which will commence earlier compared to last year. Beginning Monday, February 26, MRGCD water managers will start charging, flushing and ensuring proper operation of canals.

“Our team spends the off-season tackling major infrastructure projects, maintaining district facilities and monitoring winter weather conditions, which can have a major impact on the irrigation season. The process of charging not only flushes the canals for more efficient water delivery but also can reveal infrastructure issues that we must address before we start water deliveries,” said Matt Martinez, water distribution division manager for MRGCD.

The start of the irrigation season varies due to several factors, including water availability, weather and soil conditions, Pueblo and water user needs and the Rio Grande Compact. On Monday, MRGCD will open diversions at Cochiti, Angostura and Isleta to begin charging the irrigation system. The Socorro Division will use drain water and return flows to begin its season. This marks the first occasion when water will flow in the newly concrete-lined section of the Socorro Main Canal, which is part of a greater effort to line more canals to improve operational efficiency.  

Irrigation deliveries will begin on a limited basis after all main canals have been charged, which likely will be around mid-March. According to Martinez, irrigators and farmers in the north are not expected to request much water until late March or early April, but it depends on crops, soils, and weather conditions. Typically, the demand surges in early April, with most water users looking for their first delivery, however processing deliveries always depends on available water supply.

During the February MRGCD board meeting, water operations division manager, Anne Marken, reported that snowpack conditions in all basins but the Rio Grande Headwaters are above the 30-year median. She also emphasized the importance of the need for more accumulation in the next couple of months, which is imperative for a good spring runoff.  “MRGCD will have limited ability to augment low river flows after spring runoff is over. As always, we will closely watch and hope for summertime rainstorms, as without them middle Rio Grande irrigators should expect limited irrigation deliveries in the summer and fall months,” said Marken.

 Middle valley water users should be aware that MRGCD has enough flow to start up with, and to deliver water to farms, but it must be carefully managed. Although water is being delivered earlier than in recent years, water managers and users must continue to be conservative with water use.

 If water users have questions about their property status, the process for scheduling water, infrastructure concerns or other topics, they are encouraged to visit MRGCD’s website www.mrgcd.com for information on who to contact at MRGCD.