History of Conchas Dam
Conchas Dam was the 17th dam constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was
completed in 1939 at a cost of $15.8 million. The dam is located just downstream
from the confluence of the South Canadian and Conchas Rivers, about 35 miles northwest of
Tucumcari. Situated in the South Canadian River canyon, the dam has a 1,250 foot
long, 200-foot high concrete gravity main section, with 3.7 miles of earth wing dams and
dikes flanking the main concrete section. A 300 foot long service spillway is
located in the main dam and a 3,000 foot long concrete emergency spillway is located north
of the dam.
The lake, with a permanent pool of 70,500 acre feet, is normally about a half mile to 2
miles wide. The permanent pool elevation is 4,155 feet above mean sea level.
Recreation areas are leased to the State of New Mexico Park and Recreation Division and
private operators. Seaplane operations are permitted in the area south and west of
Conchas Dam on the Conchas arm of the lake. Recreation facilities include campsites,
restrooms/showers, drinking water, 9-hole golf course, marina, lodge and restaurant,
convenience store/restaurant, gasoline, bait shop, and boat launching ramps.
The Corps of Engineers operates and maintains day-use facilities with picnic sites,
grills, a shelter, drinking water, restrooms and playground equipment. An
information/visitors center is located at the administration building.
Conchas Lake provides 259,000 acre-feet of storage for conservation and irrigation.
These irrigation waters supply the Arch Hurley Conservation District, in the area
of Tucumcari, and the Bell Ranch, located northeast of the lake. The reservoir has
198,000 acre-feet of storage space allocated for flood control purposes and another 70,500
acre-feet for sediment control. Four major floods have occurred on the Canadian
River since the Dam was completed: in May and September 1941, in September, 1942, and June