Saving N.M. water from evaporation

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By Merilee Dannemann

Evaporation. It’s a word I think about a lot these days.
Massive quantities of New Mexico’s precious water are silently disappearing into the sky from our lakes and rivers — especially from the Elephant Butte Reservoir.
This is not a new insight. It is well recognized, if imperfectly understood. A number of studies have been done to attempt to quantify the water lost to evaporation from Elephant Butte. It turns out to be quite a scientific challenge to figure this out. The studies do not agree on a number — but whatever it is, it’s really big.
A study by New Mexico State University, published in 2004, says evaporation from the lake is estimated to be roughly 250,000 acre-feet per year, as much as one-third of the approximate average inflow. That is based on an annual inflow ranging from approximately 114,100 to 2,831,000 acre-feet per year, averaging roughly 900,000 acre-feet per year.

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