Drought Forces N.M. Campgrounds' Closure
New Mexico has now closed the main campgrounds at what used to be one of the busiest recreation lakes in the state, because the water levels have dipped to levels not seen in 70 years, KRQE-TV, Albuquerque, reported
A community meeting was held Monday night (June 17) near Tucumcari, where Conchas Lake businesses got the bad news.
The area, like the rest of New Mexico, is in severe drought.
Water levels are so low, state parks no longer have jurisdiction in some areas based on their lease agreement with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
"We can't do law enforcement, we can't provide essential services like solid and liquid waste to individuals,” Tommy Mutz, director of New Mexico State Parks, said. “The only time we can respond to an emergency is if we're requested by another law enforcement agency to do so."
That has the state closing two main campgrounds at the lake. The boat ramps have been closed since last year, because they do not reach the water anymore.
Locals say it has been tough.
"It’s really hurting the community and they're not getting business because the campers aren't here,” Janice Guidry said.
While things are pretty bad at Conchas Lake, state parks says this is not the only lake in the state that is suffering from extremely low water levels
"We manage 16 lake state parks around the state. Every lake has been negatively affected by this drought to some degree,” Mutz said.
Despite the dreary circumstances, state parks is hopeful a lot more of this will eventually turn things around.
State officials say it would take an extra 25 inches of rain over the next five years to take to fill up New Mexico’s lakes again.
Since New Mexico has only had one normal year in the past five, that kind of rain would be miraculous.