“Yes, five million gallons a day come up into Lea Lake,” Joe said. “They go out through that ditch over there, and we have overflow culverts too. From there, they go into wetlands, through BLM lands, and eventually on into Texas.”
I couldn’t believe it. Lea Lake, the largest of the eight Bottomless lakes, is about 15 acres in size and said to be about 90 feet deep despite the “bottomless” nomenclature. I had found Joe and Blake, two of the Park Rangers at Bottomless Lakes working near our motorhome, and I was asking them how there could be so much water passing through. Evidently, it came from mountains some distance to the west, got down into the water table, and found its way up right at the lake we were standing next to.
“Right over there,” Joe said, nodding at an area across the lake. “The water comes in at about 40 feet down.” Kelly and I had seen the small ditch it leaves through. Water was moving fairly swiftly but the ditch wasn’t large.
“Didn’t the drought affect it?” I asked. It’s been quite a few years of drought in the this part of New Mexico, even though this year the rains were good.
“Yes, it’s been registered at 14 million gallons in the past, and once at 24 million,” Joe said. My mind was boggled.
In the summers, Lea Lake can have 2,000 visitors a day, as it’s a very popular swimming and scuba diving area. The water is exceptionally clear.
Both Joe–the superintendent–and Blake said that as well as having duties related to running the park, they are law enforcement officers, trained at the police academy and with full law enforcement powers. “I feel safe in the parks,” I commented, and they agreed that the state parks are very safe.
“What’s that old tower?” I asked. It had been a water tower, with a water tank on top.
I had more questions, and they answered them all. When I apologized for having so many, they said answering them was part of the job.
As I headed back to our motorhome, parked at the end of what is the lakeside day use area in the summer, but available for camping in the off-season, I said that we had the prettiest campsite in the park. “Yes, you do!” Joe agreed.