NM grapples with tough choices as drought persists

Posted at: 04/24/2013 12:28 PM
By: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated Press

HATCH, N.M. (AP) - In southern New Mexico, the Rio Grande has gone dry. It's been reduced to a sandy wash winding from this chile farming community to the nation's leading pecan-producing county.

Across the state's eastern plains, wells stand empty and ranchers are selling cattle. In the north, urbanites face watering restrictions while rural residents see the levels of their springs dropping. Going on three years, drought has had a hold on nearly all of New Mexico.

Now, with forecasts predicting little relief ahead, farmers and small and large communities are questioning whether dwindling supplies can be stretched enough to avoid costly fights over water.

From the chile fields and pecan orchards of the Hatch and Mesilla valleys to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and beyond, New Mexicans are facing tough choices and dire consequences.

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