Photos and videos: Elephant Butte Reservoir, August 2022

This page features drone-captured and ground-based photos and videos of Elephant Butte Reservoir, along the Rio Grande near Truth or Consequences, N.M.

Elephant Butte Dam, completed in 1916, was built primarily to supply irrigation water, but the dam also generates hydroelectricity. When full, the reservoir can store about 2 million acre-feet of water but as of September 28, 2022, the reservoir was at just 4.6% of its capacity.

Elephant Butte, along with nearby Caballo Reservoir, are part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Rio Grande Project, which provides irrigation water to some 178,000 acres. The project also includes six diversion dams, 139 miles of canals, 457 miles of laterals, and 465 miles of drains. About 60 percent of the croplands that receive water lie in New Mexico; 40 percent are in Texas.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico’s largest, offers boating, fishing, and other recreational opportunities, but the ongoing megadrought and human demands on the Rio Grande have caused the lake’s surface area and water level to shrivel. In September 2022, two of the three boat ramps were closed due to low water levels.

DateAugust 22-23, 2022
LocationElephant Butte Reservoir, near Truth or Consequences, N.M. (map)
CreditMitch Tobin/The Water Desk
RightsFree to reuse under Creative Commons license.

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