Drying Rio Grande forces farmers to adjust to using less water
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — While rain has been devastating in the northern mountains, the summer’s heat wave is sucking up water along the Rio Grande.
Farmers who rely on the river to water their crops are concerned about their livelihoods.
“I can tell you, we have a lot of anxious farmers out there,” said Jason Casuga, CEO and chief engineer with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.
Officials with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District say conditions aren’t expected to ease up anytime soon.
Glen Duggins, a chile farmer in Socorro County, said he has to pump his own water to keep his crops alive this year – because there is just not enough in the river.
“It comes at a price of about $500 a day,” said Duggins, a farmer with Cinco Estrella Chile. “People that have diesel pumps are even going to be at a bigger disadvantage. It’s going to be even more costly. And besides the cost of running the pumps, you have the cost of maintaining them, of drilling them in the first place.”
Not all farmers in New Mexico can pump their own water, especially in the middle Rio Grande.
“Those that don’t have pumps, well, I don’t know, turn the water off for your garden and see what happens,” Duggins said. “It’ll just be a disaster, won’t it?”
Duggins said he will be sticking with his back-up water source for now, but pump water is not as good as river water.
“Not usually, it’s more salty,” he said. “It’s meant to be a band aid to get you through a rough spot to rely on them constantly. That’s going to be a problem.”