An extended drought that has included the hottest and driest 24-month period on record in New Mexico has led to a historic low water level at one area lake.
Several other area lakes are well below capacity, officials said.
The water level at Conchas Lake in San Miguel County is at 4,155 feet, which is 45 feet below the spillway and the lowest the lake has been since the record set in 1954 when it was at 4,155.80, said Jason Latham, Army Corp of Engineers at Conchas.
It doesn't appear the lakes will be recharged anytime soon. Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque forecast more dry, warm weather through spring.
Latham said it would take six months of continuous flow from the Conchas and South Canadian rivers — which feed the lake — to approach capacity.
The diminished water levels at Conchas have had an impact on the ability of the Arch Hurley Conservancy District in Quay County to allocate water to members. Conchas is the main source of water, which is delivered to members through a series of concrete canals.
The members have not received an allocation of water since 2010, which was only a partial allocation.
The overflow of Conchas Lake feeds through the Canadian River and into Ute Lake Reservoir located in Quay County near Logan, which to date is 16 foot below the dam's spillway with water elevation continuing to drop.
Larry Wallin, Logan city manager, said the lake is at the second lowest elevation he's seen since the construction of spillway in the 1980s. He said the current level of 3,771 feet has forced the closure of State Park campsites as the shoreline has receded.
Despite the low water level, Wallin said there is still enough water for recreational use. He said that could well change if water levels continue to drop with no recharge from Conchas.
West of Conchas and Ute lakes, Santa Rosa Lake is at 18 percent capacity, according to Park Ranger Chris Baca.
Baca said the low levels resulted in the restriction of boating and jet skiing on the lake last year.
He said the lake has been lower in elevation in 1993, when a drought called for water to be released south to Sumner Lake.
In De Baca County, Sumner Lake had to close a boat ramp for a while during the summer because of lack of water, according to park technician Paul Lucero.
The drop in the lake level resulted in a slight drop in local retailer's sales, according to Fort Sumner City Clerk Ron Sena.