Narraguinnep at lowest point in 10 years

Board discusses water allocations every month

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What used to be Snake Island in the middle of the Sage Hen area is now accessible by land as McPhee Reservoir is at a low point. The island was named when the reservoir filled and snakes kept moving to higher ground not realizing the area would be surrounded by water. The first few years the island had lots of snakes but they eventually all disappeared as their food supply was used up. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

What used to be Snake Island in the middle of the Sage Hen area is now accessible by land as McPhee Reservoir is at a low point. The island was named when the reservoir filled and snakes kept moving to higher ground not realizing the area would be surrounded by water. The first few years the island had lots of snakes but they eventually all disappeared as their food supply was used up.

The Narraguinep Reservoir is at its lowest point in 10 years, but there is enough water to supply irrigation needs for the rest of the season.

That’s the word from Don Magnuson, general manager for the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Co.

On Thursday, Magnuson said the reservoir was at a depth of 20 feet and held more than 1,000 acre-feet of water.

“It looks like there’s just a puddle,” he said. “We expect it to go into winter at that level.

“The needs for the remaining irrigation season will come out of the Dolores River, Groundhog Reservoir and McPhee Reservoir,” he said.

As water shareholders’ allocations are up, the company is turning them off, Magnuson said. There are some 1,400 shareholders in the company. Slightly more than half are large shareholders. Slightly fewer than half own five shares or less.

“The board has extensive discussions about their water allocation every month,” Magnuson said.

A MVIC board of directors meeting will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at the MVIC office, 11501 Highway 491.

The drought is having an impact on reservoirs all over the state, Magnuson said. On Thursday, Groundhog had 4,730 acre-feet of water.

According to the Dolores Water Conservation District, McPhee held 219,2191 acre-feet as of Thursday. Of that figure, 67,241 acre-feet is active capacity, or water available for release, and 151,978 acre-feet is the minimum pool.

In early August, DWCD manager Mike Preston reported that McPhee had reached its lowest level in nine years.

He said that the reservoir is projected to have 36,000 acre-feet of water remaining in the active pool on Nov. 1, with the surface of the lake at the elevation of 6,870, a drop of 11 feet from its current level.

calebs@cortezjournal.com

Ron Penman and his dog, Jasper, walk up the boat ramp at Narraguinnep Reservoir Thursday. If the reservoir was full, Jasper would be walking in a few inches of water and the truck at left would be 20-30 feet underwater. “This is the lowest I’ve ever seen it,” said Penman. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Ron Penman and his dog, Jasper, walk up the boat ramp at Narraguinnep Reservoir Thursday. If the reservoir was full, Jasper would be walking in a few inches of water and the truck at left would be 20-30 feet underwater. “This is the lowest I’ve ever seen it,” said Penman.