- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The snowmelt runoff from mountains in New Mexico will be low in some parts and will affect the water supplies in various state rivers, federal officials said.

The National Resource Conservation Service said this week that the snowmelt runoff is expected to be “less than average” to “significantly less than average,” because the region has not had the needed snow and is still suffering from a persistent drought.

Probable forecast runoff ranges from a high of about 70 percent of average near the border with Colorado to around 30 percent on the Rio Grande entering Elephant Butte Reservoir, the Jemez River, and Mimbres River, the agency said.

In northwest New Mexico, the San Juan River has received recent snow that may improve inflow to the San Juan Chama Project during the spring of 2014, according to federal officials.

“Drought is persisting in New Mexico. Unfortunately, less than average snowmelt means there will be less water in our rivers,” said Interstate Stream Commission Director Estevan Lopez. “Less water in our rivers adds pressure to our environment, our irrigators and our statewide economy.”

Officials said greater than average precipitation will be needed the next few months to have average runoff this spring.State and federal officials are trying to keep the Rio Grande flowing.

Meanwhile, the Interstate Stream Commission and the Bureau of Reclamation are working with a contractor to clear sediment from a 20-mile-long channel that leads to Elephant Butte Reservoir.

Officials say having the channel clear allows for more water to make it to southern New Mexico farmers and for the state to meet its water delivery obligations to Texas.

The maintenance is expected to continue through March.

The sediment in the river channel was deposited following last September’s record rains. The contractor also plans to repair some levees.

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