ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – While some of the drainage from the rains up north is making its way to the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, it is not going to be enough to get the river back to normal. Officials say the river probably won’t be flowing again until next year.
The water levels in the Rio Grande in the Albuquerque area are at a low we haven’t seen since the 80s, and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District says don’t expect them to go up anytime soon. “The river is supported by snowmelt runoff that turns into water, and that’s pretty much gone, that is gone for the season,” said Jason Casuga, chief engineer and CEO of the MRGCD.
Tuesday, the Rio Grande was bone dry, but rains from up north and in the basin had the river flowing again. Wednesday, some water remained, but officials expect it to dry up in days. “There is no other water available to the river except was produced in this valley. And what I mean by that is rain at this point in time,” said Casuga.
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Wednesday, water in the river near central measured 2.72 feet. A year ago at this same time, the Rio Grande was nearly 4 feet deep. Low water levels are nothing new. It happens every year down south near Las Cruces and El Paso. But it’s been more than 30 years since it’s been this low in the metro. “It is uncommon, at least in recent history to see that come this far,” said Casuga.
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District says there is some good news. In areas like the Cochiti reservoir, some water will be released and flow south, but it won’t be much. “So, any water that comes into their system from a rain event, though they will pass on downstream in a safe manner,” said Casuga.
The rains are expected to continue for the next few days, but the river is expected to dry up again in the next 72 hours or so. Another big risk to a dry river is flash flooding besides the impact on agriculture and the ecosystem. Officials say infrastructure like jetty jacks that are sticking up out of the ground, may be submerged and if you don’t see it, it could cause injury or damage.