There is some good news for Corrales farmers who have been dealing with the hardship of little to no irrigation water since last summer.
Last week, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District completed a successful test of the temporary pumping solution for the Corrales Siphon, which has been out of commission since May 2022 because of a broken pipe.
Corrales farmers faced a difficult and worrisome summer with a temporary pump system and an extreme, prolonged drought.
Jason Casuga, MRGCD’s CEO and chief engineer, acknowledged that aging infrastructure and limited water had placed Corrales farmers in an exceptionally difficult spot. The district came up with a short-term fix of diesel pumps that delivered at least two cycles of irrigation water to the village.
The test on Monday is another temporary solution but is a step toward a permanent fix.
“This temporary pumping operation pulls water right out of the river and delivers it into the canal, where the siphon outlet would be,” Casuga said. “It cannot provide the same volume the
siphon can, but we think it provides an operational volume to satisfy the demand for this year.”
MRGCD moved quickly in 2022 to install diesel pumps after the pipe broke, but those proved to be inefficient. Now, the district is working with PNM to guarantee water delivery to irrigators that brought power to the Corrales Siphon and allowed for the use of electric pumps.
“This year we were able to complete a project with PNM to bring power to this location and now we’re able to use electric pumps,” Casuga said. “They will be quieter than the diesel pumps, provide more reliable service and eliminate having diesel a stone’s throw away from the bosque.”
The electric pumps will deliver irrigation water to the entire farming community of Corrales and a portion of Albuquerque on the west side of the Rio Grande. The electric pumps are expected to be in place for the 2023 and 2024 irrigation seasons. It’s a temporary fix, however, as the district is still working to get a new siphon built and in place by 2025.
“This is still a temporary pumping operation,” Casuga said. “We have sought funding through the Water Trust Board to build a new siphon, underneath the river, and we are continuing to move those efforts forward.”