Farming Recharges Aquifer

Greg Daviet
Greg Daviet - Recently, there has been a significant number of discussions regarding agricultural groundwater pumping in Dona Ana county. Much of these centers around the concern that agricultural users are pumping too much and the Mesilla groundwater basin is rapidly being drained.  Like the most recent article on groundwater pumping, the impression given implies the sky is falling and we will soon run out of water.  As an agricultural water user, I would also be worried if I didn’t already know the missing pieces of information.  It is my sincere hope I can dispel the “sky is falling” myth by telling the rest of the story. Allow me to start by reassuring you that we have been through this before.  The droughts of the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s also required extensive groundwater pumping.  Because the 1980’s and 1990’s had more than adequate surface water supplies, it is understandable that most of us don’t have a clear memory of what a drought period looks like, or that the groundwater aquifer rapidly recovers when surface water availability increases. Agricultural use of surface water has built and maintained our aquifer over the last century.  When water flows from Elephant Butte Lake to local farms, more than 1/3 of that water seeps from irrigation canals back into the groundwater.  When a farmer puts water on a field, more than 20% (on average) of that water also ends up as groundwater.  Because our surface water supply comes from north of Espanola, the only way this ‘outside’ water is brought into our aquifer is through its use by farmers in the Lower Rio Grande. Read More News New Mexico



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