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Just released: Farmers eagerly await irrigation water

Published On: Jun 01 2013 08:55:51 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 09:40:56 PM CST

Tens of thousands of acre-feet of water were released to farmers in the Elephant Butte and El Paso irrigation districts and Mexico. The water was released from the the Percha Dam at Caballo Lake.

El Paso -

  As water slowly makes it's way to El Paso, farmers are waiting eagerly.

This morning marked the long awaited release of water from Percha Dam at Caballo Lake, where up to 22-hundred cubic feet per second are gushing out making their way south to Texas and Mexico.

The El Paso County Water Improvement District reports most of the water will be available for the Elephant Butte and El Paso areas. A smaller amount will go to Mexico.

But for those who've been seeking alternative sources for water, answers have been hard to come by.

In Fabens, Texas, the drought has strangled farmers' profits.

"When it gets hot, it gets hot," said Ramon Tirres, a local farmer. "And you better have some water ready. ... But it's not going to happen that way."

He's hoping to produce 2,000 gallons of water per minute. To do so, he's using a well-digger to lay pipe 160 feet below ground.

Even though is sounds -- and looks -- like a lot, Tirres said it's hardly the truth.  

The wells will help some of the cotton crops in the Lower Valley, but for every acre of cotton planted, there are many more that weren't planted.

"I think, 'I'll just be here six months and be done,'" said William McGowan, who is busy digging those wells. "But, it didn't work out that way."

The water shortage, he said, means much more work for him.

In 40 years of drilling, he said he hasn't seen this much work since the 80s, adding that there is also a shortage of help.

"Yeah, for quite a while from the looks of it. We have lots of work," he said.

It's enough to keep him busy at least another year, and that doesn't include the orders he'll soon be taking as more farmers approach him.

Tirres, the farmer, said he waited eight months for his well to be drilled. And even though it may be too late for this season, he said it's better late than never.

"Just to have them here," he said. "Knowing that we'll have some water -- especially knowing the bad situation -- we're looking at during the summer."

In the mean time, the water released from Caballo Lake slowly makes it's way south. It won't reach the reach Radium Springs area until next Tuesday or Las Cruces until Wednesday.

In fact, farmers in the Upper Valley will have to wait until Friday, and the water won't reach Downtown El Paso until next Saturday.

And that means more waiting for the Lower Valley farmers. But, they, with the slow moving water comes hope.

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