Water-starved West ~Wasted Water of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

I walked out of the hotel and asked the staff person by the door if he could point me in the direction of the Santa Fe River.

“It’s just on the other side of the road,” he said pointing to Alameda Street.

The man’s name was Ben, and he told me he grew up in the area. “When I was a kid the river was higher and flowed, but now it’s not much more than a trickle.”

I asked him if there was any wildlife in the river. He looked down. “No, not since long ago when they dammed it creating a reservoir back in the 1943.”

Before Ed and I left Santa Fe, New Mexico we decided to drive up and see the reservoir located near the Randall Davey Audubon Center at 1800 Canyon Road. When we got there it was closed, and had been since 1932, in order to protect this precious watershed.

When I pulled up information on the Nichols Reservoir, it said the City of Santa Fe through the Nichols Reservoir and the McClure Reservoir, further up the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, have the right to store up to 4000 acre-feet combined for their city’s use. However, the Rio Grand Compact controls 2,939 acre-feet of the capacity depending on the water levels in the Elephant Butte Reservoir…so if Butte is low, the city is obligated to release water from the Nichols Reservoir to supply Colorado and Texas…


I turned to Ed and said, “if I’m not mistaken, over many years the Army Corp has easily discharged over up to 5000 cubic feet per second and that is that is over 9000 acre feet a day- for months at a time- of fresh water Lake Okeechobee discharges into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.  In 2013, it was over 5700 cubic feet per second for weeks and weeks, and S-80 can release up to 16,900 CFS or 33,520 acre feet per day if necessary.”

What a waste! And those people in New Mexico are fighting over “crumbs.”

Thurlow & Thurlow S-80 Lake O conversion water chart: http://www.thurlowpa.com/C44RealTimeData.htm

There has to be a better way than killing the St Lucie and wasting Florida’s  fresh water…we will start with the #EAAReservoir….


3 thoughts on “Water-starved West ~Wasted Water of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

  1. Sometimes it does feel like the planet is out of wack. Nature, water rights and human decency is becoming “privatized” to the benefit of the few.

    New Mexico however, is still a magical and spiritual place. In 1972 I lived in Santa Fe working with an Indian potter on Canyon Rd. (Big craft and art gallery scene). The whole area has become quite commercialized, but if you try hard enough you can still find some extraordinary places to experience.

    The BEST Green Chili Burritos I’v even eaten are on the “other side” of town. Look for restaurant windows that are all steamed up, with old cars parked in front of them ;-).

    1. Oh Ezra! I can’t believe you lived in this beautiful place! And Canyon Rd. ~So special. So many Native American influences that overshadow all the sadness that occurred here to their people. I was completely smitten by the place in spite of the present commercialization. I spoke with some who lived there in the 70s before the explosion of tourism. And the water situation…yes, even more puts ours in perspective. Thanks for writing.

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