Red Bluff Reservoir (Rio Grande River Basin)

Red Bluff Reservoir is located five miles north of Orla in Reeves County, on the Pecos River forming the border of Reeves and loving counties. It extends into Eddy County, New Mexico, and takes its name from red bluffs along the river. The project is owned and operated by Red Bluff Water Power Control District for water supply, irrigation power generation, flood control and recreation purposes. In 1916 The Pecos Valley of Texas Water Users Association filed a petition with the United States Secretary of the Interior requesting aid for a reservoir. A new organization, the Red Bluff Water Improvement District, developed plans to include lands from Red Bluff to Grandfalls, Texas.

Agreement between Texas and New Mexico provided for construction in 1924. President Calvin Coolidge approved the plan in 1926. Seven water districts were combined into the Red Bluff Water Power Control District in 1927. Construction for the dam started in November 1934 and was completed by September 1936. Deliberate impoundment of water began at the same time of completion. The red Bluff Dam consists of three sections: a main earthfill embankment across the Pecos River, an uncontrolled emergence spillway to the right of the main embankment, and a controlled service spillway located in a cut to the right of the emergence spillway and against the hills on the right side of the valley. The main earthfill embankment is approximately 9,200 feet long with a maximum height of 102 feet at the river and a width at top of 25 feet. The top of the dam is at elevation of 2,856.4 feet above mean sea level. The uncontrolled emergence spillway is excavated from natural earth with a crest of 790 feet in length at elevation of 2,844.7 feet above mean sea level. The service spillway is a type of concrete ogee controlled by 12 tainter gates, each 25 feet wide and 15 feet tall, with a crest of about 300 feet in net length at elevation of 2,826.7 feet above mean sea level. The reservoir has a storage capacity of 151,110 acre-feet encompassing a surface area of 7,495 acres at the conservation pool elevation of 2,827.4 feet above mean sea level. The drainage area of the reservoir is 20,720 square miles.

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