The Bureau of Reclamation first released water from New Mexico’s Elephant Butte Reservoir and then opened the gates of the Caballo Reservoir on June 1.
By Friday morning water had flowed downstream to Mesilla, New Mexico. River water began reaching El Paso on Sunday. Rio Grande water will end up in El Paso’s faucets, irrigating fields of cotton and alfalfa and sustaining wetland ecosystems like the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park.
The annual water allotments for Southern New Mexico, far West Texas, and Mexico are below normal levels. Less snowpack, warmer temperatures, and limited precipitation have reduced water levels along the Rio Grande in recent years. Farmers and water utilities are adjusting to the new reality.