There is good news and bad news for Middle Rio Grande Valley farmers in New Mexico who are anxiously awaiting Monday's start to the new irrigation season.

Thanks to record rainfalls late last year, there is cause for optimism that farmers may be getting more irrigation water than last year. But Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District hydrologist David Gensler warns that not all that glitters is gold.

"The best we can hope for as it stands now is about 60,000 acre-feet in storage this year,” he told MRGCD board of directors at a water bank meeting in Albuquerque last month.

Partnerships help conserve water resources

Gensler said last year the district was limited to only about 42,000 acre feet.

"Right now we are looking at about 5,000 acre feet that we have in storage with more to come," he added.

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The District depends on the resources Mother Nature provides to set water bank irrigation allocations each year. That includes rainfall in the fall through the winter and spring seasons and, more importantly, the amount of snowmelt realized each spring.

New Mexico water officials say the snowmelt provides the lion's share of irrigation water statewide each year; in recent years that has been much less than normal. Water district officials say below normal snowfall has been the norm for the last three winters, and in spite of a good start to this winter season, snowfall averages have dropped off and have been below normal since the first of the year.