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In Hatch, a dry Rio Grande

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Getting my shoes muddy was not a problem this morning when I wandered down into the bed of the Rio Grande just outside Hatch, New Mexico.

I was driving back from a morning Elephant Butte Irrigation District growers meeting at the Hatch Community Center, where hydrologist Phil King delivered the bad news: “That is below the 1950s,” King said, pointing to a table of numbers projected onto the community center wall. “That is the lowest on record.”

“The 1950s” is meaningful here, in a region where many families have been farming the same land for nearly a century, and where “The Drought of the ’50s” is the benchmark for how bad things can get.

After the meeting, I drove back up the farm road through the Hatch Valley, stopping at one of the spots where the road crosses the river so I could climb down and take a picture. A river with no water is a thing to behold.

I’ll have more in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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