ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The 2023 irrigation season is about to begin in the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. Last year, diches ran dry mid-summer, but what can you expect for 2023?

To find out, KRQE News 13 spoke to Jason Casuga, the CEO of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD). He says things are looking better this year, but drought is still a concern.

“The stream forecasts, and what we use to make decision here as we get ready for the irrigation season, is very much improved from this time last year,” Casuga says. “The Middle Valley should expect to see more water in the river compared to last year.”

Snowpack in the mountains that supply the middle Rio Grande is looking decent this year. Most of those basins are at 100% of their average conditions, according to MRGCD.

That snowpack should melt into decent spring runoff. But there’s no guarantee that water will flow all the way through summer.

“The spring runoff was done by the end of April, if not sooner, last year,” Casuga says. “Whereas what we’re hearing, and what the forecast is showing, is that we could have spring runoff through and into June [this year].”

“Once that spring runoff goes through and it concludes, we will likely find ourselves in the same spot we did last year in July,” Casuga adds. That means the region will likely need rain to get through the rest of irrigation season.

To help make the most of the water we will have, MRGCD will again operate a staggered start for water delivery. Albuquerque and Cochiti deliveries are set to begin April 1. Socorro is scheduled for March 18, and Belen is scheduled for March 20.

Those dates are subject to change. But MRGCD says tater should begin flowing in Albuquerque ditches by March 20.