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Elephant Butte Dam

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Country  United States
Construction began  1911
Type of dam  Gravity
Opened  1916
Architectural style  Gravity dam
Status  In use
Opening date  1916
Height  92 m
Area  18 ha
Added to NRHP  9 April 1979
Elephant Butte Dam httpswwwsierracountynewmexicoinfowpcontent
Location  Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Owner  United States Bureau of Reclamation
Similar  Elephant Butte Reservoir, Caballo Dam, Cochiti Dam, El Vado Dam, Mesilla Diversion Dam

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Elephant Butte Dam or Elephant Butte Dike is a concrete gravity dam on the Rio Grande river near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The dam impounds Elephant Butte Reservoir, which is used mainly for agriculture, and also provides for recreation, hydroelectricity and flood control. The construction of the dam has reduced the flow of the Rio Grande to a small stream for most of the year, with water released only during the summer irrigation season, or during times of exceptionally heavy snow melt.


Map of Elephant Butte Dam, Truth or Consequences, NM 87901, USA

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The dam is part of the Rio Grande Project, a project to provide power and irrigation to south-central New Mexico and west Texas. The United States Congress authorized construction of the dam on February 25, 1905 and it began in 1911. It was completed in 1916 but allowed to begin filling in 1915.

At the time of its construction, the dam was the largest irrigation dam ever built with the exception of the Aswan Dam in Egypt. It was expected that the dam would become the property of the local settlers once a water tax had reimbursed the government for the cost of construction. During construction the government used a system of 3 cables, each having a capacity of 15 tons and a span of 1,400 feet (430 m).

The name "Elephant Butte" refers to a volcanic core similar to Devils Tower in Wyoming. It is now an island in the lake. The butte was said to have the shape of an elephant.


Elephant Butte Dam is 301 feet (91.7 m) high, 1,674 feet (510.2 m) long including the spillway and is made from 618,785 cubic yards (473,095 m³) of concrete. The width at the top of the dam is 18 feet (5.5 m) and 228 feet (69.5 m) at the base.

The reservoir has a capacity of 2,065,010 acre feet (2.54715×109 m3) of water and controls the runoff from 28,900 square miles (74,850 km²). It provides irrigation to 178,000 acres (720 km²) of land. The dam also contains a 27,945-kilowatt hydroelectric powerplant. The current turbine was installed in 1940 and generates 38,449,061 kWh per year (as of 2005). The crest elevation is 4390 ft (1338 m).


Elephant Butte Dam Wikipedia

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