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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 6:17pm

Irrigation season coming to end, area farmers preparing

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 7:07pm

The end of irrigation season for farmers means a more expenses. Water from Caballo Dam, which is downstream of Elephant Butte will be shut of this Saturday.

"Got to be in your blood for you to understand,” Ramon Tirres Jr., a farmer in Clint explained of why he loves to farm.

Tirres is proud of his trade. The proof is in the pecans and cotton which surround him. "As long as there's water, we will be able to irrigate,” he said.

The farmer of 40 years has been tending to crops in Clint and on Saturday around noon he'll have to depend on well water. "It really doesn't affect the crops so much because we've been irrigating with good water all the summer."

Caballo Dam is fed by Elephant Butte supplies water to area farmers. The dam usually closes around September, which is something farmers are used to. "We usually turn off the river in September but lately it's been earlier,” John Evelar, Farm Manager of Oro Farms said.

The drought has impacted local farms prompting farmers like Evelar and Tirres to save as much well water as they can, "Pumping is very expensive, the water's not as good,” Evelar explained.

"The main affect is going to be financial because it's real expensive to run these irrigation wells,” Tirres said.

Tirres also claimed he's had to downsize over the years, "The first year, I went down 30-percent of my acreage 'cause of the drought. The second year 70-percent." Not only his land, his manpower, as well. Cutting his help from 13 to now six, "And it was a hard thing to take because they've been with me so many years,” he said.

The El Paso County Water Improvement District adds -- we've seen water levels rise this year but by not a lot, "We don't have as much water in the canals like we usually do. Usually we have a lot more,” Robert Martinez with the Water Improvement Districted stated.

The dam will reopen again in March. But because of the drought, officials explained, most likely in June.

"Water… it's just life. You don't have it, you don't have anything,” Evelar said.

For months, farmers will use the water they do have and look to the sky for hope. "Man knows not what water is worth until he has none,” Tirres recites a quote he’s reminded of, "Solution is rain."


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