The Rio Grande dries up in Albuquerque in hot and dry conditions


A portion of the Rio Grande River near Albuquerque that supplies farmers with water and a habitat for a range of aquatic life has begun drying up — a worrisome spectacle of the effects of climate change in a densely populated American city.

like summer The hottest and driest weather has fed drought And the Fire Across the West, federal and local agencies are salvaging what they can along a 100-mile section of the river: rationing water for 66,000 acres of farmland and salvaging silver mines stranded in remaining pools of water. If consistent rains do not fall in the region soon, the drought that has not matched in four decades could worsen.

These maps show the severity of the western drought

They also warn residents to be prepared to see a bed of mud and sand where one of the country’s longest rivers must flow. While the river’s southern stretches dry up regularly, this stretch has not experienced a drought like this since 1983, said Jason Casuga, chief executive of the Rio Grande Central District.

“Most of the people in Albuquerque who lived here grew up always seeing the river full of water,” he told The Washington Post. “So it would be a really big surprise to get up and go out and look at the river and realize there’s no water.”

After three consecutive years of severe drought conditions, officials feared a historic drought, but torrential rains in late June gave a brief respite. However, arid July and triple-digit temperatures burned any hope. As of Thursday, more than 73 percent of New Mexico is experiencing “extreme” or “extreme” drought, according to the US Drought Observatory.

Kasuga said officials’ concerns were validated on Friday when investigators reached the river and reported seeing a stretch of gravel and sand. In places where water has collected, authorities can measure the flow of water, which has historically been weak.

“We ran out of water a lot at this point,” Kasuga said.

Aside from the rain, Kasuga said, other options for water have been exhausted. New Mexico is a city of Texas as part of a water-sharing agreement. A reservoir in El Vado is not accessible this year due to a dam construction project. Other upstream reserves won’t be able to help much this year due to poor snow mass and little rain. Nearby Elephant Butte Lake is half full compared to what it was just months ago.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Reclamation has released the stored water to target specific areas where silver minnows live, and to repopulate the fish as well. The river is also home to the willow flycatcher and the yellow-billed cuckoo.

The unusual view of the river, a brown scab across a green patch of cottonwood and willow trees shocked Those who live along the river.

John Flick, who is writing a book about the river, investigated after a friend reported an impending drought and described as “A beautiful mess of clay.”

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