Broken siphon temporarily fixed in Corrales

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CORRALES, N.M. – Several farmers in Corrales were on the verge of losing farms and orchards last year due to drought conditions and a broken siphon.

Now, one of those problems is fixed, at least temporarily.

Rudy Perea is a farmer and owner of Corrales Orchard. In all his years in the business, last year was among the hardest. 

“I did lose some trees, but not as bad as other people,” said Perea.   

The siphon or pipe beneath the Rio Grande north of Corrales broke. It’s a big deal since it provided a lot of water to the entire irrigating community of Corrales as well as areas of Albuquerque.

A temporary fix was put in place, but it didn’t generate the same amount of water as the siphon.

“Well I spent most of my time watering it by hand and it’s real difficult when you’re used to the ditch,” said Perea. 

And again this year, a temporary fix, but with a slight improvement. 

“This year, we were able to complete a project with PNM to bring more power to this location and now we’re able to use electric pumps,” said Jason Casuga, CEO & Chief Engineer of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

Before the electric pumps, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District had two diesel-powered pumps that drew water directly from the river, into the Corrales main canal.

But some farmers say it was hurting them more than helping:

“Well, we were not getting the water we needed, so it was hard,” said Perea. “It wasn’t like the siphon, the siphon broken, provided more water than they’ve been able to provide with the pumps.” 

But there is a little more hope with the new electric pumps.

“One it will be quieter, two will provide more reliable service, and three, eliminate having diesel a stone throw away from the bosque,” said Casuga.  

The overall goal is to build a new siphon and have it working by the start of the 2025 irrigation season.

Until then, there’s growing frustration among farmers. Their bread and butter depends on an abundance of the precious resource – Rio Grande water.  

“I don’t know why they spent all this money, they haven’t started working, and they don’t plan to work on it till two years more. That’s why everyone is frustrated, we may lose everything by then,” said Perea.