Water levels at Elephant Butte continue to descend due to the ongoing drought

Elephant Butte

Officials at Elephant Butte State Park said the water levels are about 18 feet lower compared to last year.

They said with the ongoing drought, lower water level can have an effect on those out on their boats in some areas of the lake.

“It’s kinda sad, to see the water levels because you can see the marks on the mountains,” El Paso resident Erin Tyson said.

More than 75,000 people headed to Elephant Butte to catch Saturday’s firework display on Snake Island.

But with the lack of snow and rainfall in the Colorado Rockies, attendance and water levels at Elephant Butte have dropped dramatically.

Jacob Townsend is a marine enforcement officer at Elephant Butte State Park.

“Back in the 90s, the lake when it was full and going over the spillway, people remember it was 27 miles in length, currently we’re sitting on 10 or 11 miles in length, so there’s still plenty of water,” Townsend said.

He said with less water in the lake, they may have to close off areas where people usually boat.

“As we lose more water, in some areas it makes travel on the waterways and boats a little tight. We may have to shut down certain areas to where you go to no wake such as a marina but out in the middle that we can prevent accidents from happening,” Townsend said.

People who live in the area worry about the levels affecting local business.

“Water levels being this low impacts the whole community out here. A lot of these businesses rely on summer traffic to survive, because in the winter they can’t sustain themselves,” Annette Foreman said.

The park will receive a $180,000 grant from the government to help improve water flow.

Until then, people spending the holiday here said the lower water levels won’t keep them away.

“It’s actually just really surprising to see how much actual land you can see now and how much beach there is, but other than that is still fun to swim and have fun,” Tyson said.

For now, Townsend said they hope to still attract visitors to the lake.

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