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HATCH (AP) — In southern New Mexico, the mighty Rio Grande has gone dry — reduced to a sandy wash winding from this chile farming community to the nation’s leading pecan-producing county. Only puddles remain, leaving gangs of carp to huddle together in a desperate effort to avoid the fate of thousands of freshwater clams, their shells empty and broken on the river bottom.
Across the state’s eastern plains, wells stand empty and ranchers are selling their cattle. In the north, urbanites face watering restrictions while rural residents see the levels of their springs dropping more every day.
Going on three years, drought has had a hold on nearly every square mile of New Mexico. Now, with forecasts predicting hotter, drier weather ahead, farmers and small and large communities alike 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.