SANDOVAL COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) — We’ve seen the effects of the heavy snowpack melting this spring from flooding in the Jemez to rising water levels in the Rio Grande, but the melting floods might have the biggest impact at Cochiti Lake. A spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) said the water at Cochiti is 30 feet higher than normal.
“Heard a few friends ask about how big the lake has gotten, and they weren’t lying,” said Marty Sanchez of the Santo Domingo Pueblo, “The parking lot is gone, completely underwater. The beach—can’t even tell there was a beach there at one point, other than the restrooms that are barely sticking out.”
According to USACE, the lake could rise even higher next week: climbing seven or eight feet.
“There’s a lot of water out here and just passing by the spillway itself you can see the water that’s coming out, the pressure,” Sanchez stated. USACE explained that right now, they’re releasing 5,000 cubic feet of water per second out of the lake—that’s more than two million gallons per minute.
The pure volume of water is shocking to people visiting the lake: “How could it even get this high so quickly,” asks Ian Mathis, who was visiting the lake from Redwood City, California.
Folks who were out at the lake just a couple of weeks ago tell News 13 this shoreline has changed dramatically in that time. “It was like, way back. You see that tree right there? It was probably about, the water started about five or six feet that way from it,” Mathis said.
“The water is really high, and so, there is no beach, and boat ramp is going right into the water, and I think the most amazing thing is to see how high it is. Is that where the beach used to be and the restrooms? They are underwater now,” said Angela Myers, who was also visiting Cochiti Lake Tuesday.
Despite the flooding, folks are looking at the bright side. “I do a lot of farming in Santo Domingo, and our conservancy actually runs off of the lake, and so to have this much water coming off the conservancy, that’s going to be good for our farm season,” Sanchez explained.
“Kind of threw me off guard driving down, but I like it, you know, more water: more fun,” Mathis expressed.
USACE is planning to increase how much water they’re releasing out of the lake Wednesday. They hope to have all the excess water released by July 1 while monitoring the flood risk downstream. They are putting out buoys to mark the hazards in the water and urge caution to anyone heading into the water as there are structures, trees, and other debris submerged.