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Eagle Nest Lake Low, But Definitely Not The Lowest It Has Been

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

As you drive by Eagle Nest Lake you can't help but notice the low level indicative of the high water mark way up on the shore and the fact that the majority of the boat ramp is exposed. The lake is definitely low but not as low as it has been in recent history.

According to USGS data, the capacity of Eagle Nest Lake is 79,120 acre feet (one acre ft equals 325,851 gallons). As of the beginning of November the lake was currently holding just over 32,000 acre ft. (40% of capacity). Seasonal fluctuations are normal with the lake retaining more water in the Spring months and moving to seasonal lows in October and November.

The lowest level recorded in recent history was in 2014 of only 16,900 acre ft. Highs within recent history occurred in 2010 and 2019 of 61,150 acre ft and 51,000 acre ft. respectively.

Eagle Nest Lake collects water from a relatively small watershed of only 167 square miles that encompasses the valley floor and surrounding mountains. Not all water from the watershed makes it to the lake, approximately 2,500 acres of pasture and agricultural land upstream from the lake is irrigated from the same watershed.

According to the USGS the highest level the lake has ever reached was 81,360 acre ft in 1994 (flood stage), and the lowest ever recorded was in 1954 of only 635 acre ft (someone must have left the gate open).

Eagle Nest Lake is formed by a concrete dam with a spillway cut into the natural rock. The dam was completed and began retaining water in 1918.

Rob Swan


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