Las Vegas, N.M., missed a major opportunity to store water from the recent downpours.
A levee in a diversion channel was supposed to send rain water into Storrie Lake on the northern end of town, but the levee broke Friday, sending water rushing back into the river and into town.
With the water subsiding, officials are now working to figure out how it happened.
It's a sight the city of Las Vegas hadn't seen in years. While the water from recent downpours could have brought the drought-stricken town some relief, it also brought problems.
Heavy rain hit the northern New Mexico city hard last week. A diversion channel meant to send flowing water from the Gallinas Canyon into a nearly dry Storrie Lake didn't work out as planned.
On Friday, Storrie Lake officials found a breach in a canal and water that would have gone into the lake headed into the river and flooded parts of town.
"It's absolutely disappointing. We missed out on an opportunity to probably have enough water just during this period to guarantee water for next year, for one full year supply," explained Robert Quintana, board of directors president for the Storrie Project Water Users Association.
The privately-operated Storrie Lake serves 50 shareholders downstream. Quintana said its water is used mainly for irrigation and recreation.
The city of Las Vegas has a lease with Storrie Lake and uses their portion for irrigation and drinking water. Since last week, the lake has risen about 6 feet.
Gov. Susana Martinez toured the area Saturday, saying had it not been for the broken levee, even more water could have been stored for future use.
"What they're doing right now is we're repairing it. That's the number one thing to do is to repair it so that they can divert the water into Storrie Lake," Martinez told reporters Saturday.
Quintana said Storrie Lake officials are looking into how the canal was breached and how to save what water they can.
"It's pretty disheartening to see that water going down the river," Quintana said. "This rainfall is unprecedented.
We just haven't had this kind of rainfall here, so we're working to restore it just as soon as we can."
Quintana said the canal is back up and running and crews are still working around the clock as weather permits to fully repair and add material to the breach.
Since last week, Las Vegas has received about 9 inches of rain.
And since the recent downpours, the city has been able to push about 15 million gallons into the lake through an underground pipeline.