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Facts

  • In drought years, 78% of all New Mexico water use goes to farming.

  • Depending on the year, New Mexico farmers irrigate about 900,000 to 1 million acres, about 25% to 75% of all the farmland in an agro-ecoregion.

  • Surface water comes from the Rio Grande, Colorado, Canadian and Pecos rivers basins as well as small amounts from runoff in the closed basin areas of the Transition Mountains and southern Arid Lowlands (map). Groundwater basins — especially the Ogallala (High Plains), Estancia, Roswell, and Tularosa — supply significant irrigation water.

  • About 875, 500 acres require irrigation. About 60% comes from surface water and 40% from groundwater or a combination of the two (15%).

  • Irrigated farms (2007): 10,200. Irrigated acres: 830,000. 8,492 irrigated farms harvested crops (648,000 ac). 2,918 irrigated pastureland (182,000 ac). 800 farms irrigated more than 2,000 ac each (total of 430,000 ac).

  • Drip irrigation accounted for 18,875 acres (2%); flood for 448,599 acres (51%); and sprinkler for 407,941 acres (47%).

  • Self-supplied livestock withdrawals were over 57,000 acre- feet or 1.4%, of total ag withdrawals (2007). Per capita daily water needs: non-dairy cattle (10 gpcd); dairy cattle (100 gpcd); chickens (0.08); hogs (3); horses and mules (13); sheep (2.2).

  • Water needs vary widely with agro-ecoregion. Alfalfa, at Elephant Butte, requires 4.6 feet of irrigation water; at Middle Rio Grande, 3.2 feet; at Rio Arriba, 2.3 feet.

  • Water compacts that impact irrigation include: Canadian River Compact (Ute Dam), Colorado River Compact (Animas La Plata River Compact, San Juan - Chama River, Navajo Indian Irrigation Project, Navajo Dam, Lower Colorado Project, Central Arizona Project), Pecos River Compact, Rio Grande Compact (Costilla Creek Compact. El Paso/Las Cruces Water Project, San Juan Chama Project).