Submitted to: Open Journal of Hydrology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 3, 2012
Publication Date: November 1, 2012
Citation: Brauer, D.K., Gitz, D.C. 2012. Effects of changes in irrigation and land use on stream flow in the Revuelto Creek watershed, a tributary of the Canadian River in New Mexico. Open Journal of Hydrology. (6):88-96. Interpretive Summary: Dams were created along the Canadian River in New Mexico and Texas during the 20th century to supply water for irrigation, municipal, and industrial uses. In recent years, demand has exceeded supplies. This study examined trends in stream flow, land use and irrigation in the Revuelto Creek watershed, a tributary of the Canadian River in eastern New Mexico. Annual total outflow from the Revuelto Creek Watershed was positively related to the amount of irrigation water available to a conservancy district within the watershed. Soil Water Assessment Tool, a hydrologic model for agricultural watersheds, adequately predicted outflow from Revuelto Creek when historical values for irrigation were used. Additionally the model indicated that changes in the amount of brush in the rangeland within the watershed, had little effect on stream flow. These results indicate the potential positive effects that irrigation can have on stream flow in a semi-arid climate.
Technical Abstract: Extensive development in the Canadian River watershed in New Mexico and Texas occurred in the 20th century to supply water for irrigation, and municipal and industrial uses. In recent years (2000-2009), these infrastructures have not been able to supply sufficient water to meet demands. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of changes in irrigation allotments and land use to the Arch Hurley Conservancy District on stream flow out of Revuelto Creek, a tributary of the Canadian River in eastern New Mexico. Outflow from Revuelto Creek varied considerably from 1961 to 2009. The best predictor of annual outflow was a two-component linear model with terms for annual precipitation and the annual irrigation allotment to the Arch Hurley Conservancy District. ArcSWAT (GIS extension of the Soil Water Assessment Tool) simulated outflow from Revuelto Creek with the highest R-squares and lowest root mean square error between observed and predicted when historical values for irrigation allotments were used in the management operations for cropland. These results indicate that annual irrigation allotments of approximately 100,000 acre-feet increased outflow from the creek by approximately 20,000 acre-feet. Years in which the irrigation allotments to the district exceeded 100,000 acre-feet corresponded to years, in which water was released from Ute Lake. These results suggest historically that water originating from upstream of Ute Lake contributed to stream flow of the Canadian River down stream of Ute Dam and into Texas and potentially Lake Meredith.