Drought Hits 97% Of New Mexico

Hank Nielsen Pexels

The rain on the California coast and snow in the mountains to the east of it has not extended far enough east to help New Mexico. According to the US Drought Monitor, ninety-eight percent of the state suffers from some drought. If that was not bad enough, much of the state suffers from the worst forms of drought. These are known as “severe drought,” “extreme drought,” and “exceptional drought.” Among these, they cover 12% of the state, particularly in the south, which is adjacent to the Mexican border. 

Rain ProblemCalifornia Hammered

Drought WorsensLake Mead Damage

The New Mexico drought problem will worsen since it is forecasted to continue. According to the US Seasonal Drought Outlook, which covers the period from February 15 through May 31, drought conditions will stay the same as they have been this year. 

The drought in the southeast and parts of California has been called a 1,200-year drought. Rain in California may have broken that long cycle. Most scientists believe the relief will be short-lived. New Mexico did not even have that brief respite. 

Several academic studies have tried to measure the effects of the drought on New Mexico’s economy. One, from New Mexico State’s College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, titled “Climate Change and Its Implications for New Mexico’s Water Resources and Economic Opportunities,” concludes, “While total annual economic losses are estimated in the vicinity of $300 million, under severe climate changes where runoff is reduced by nearly 30%, both economic and non-economic losses are likely to be significantly higher.” Part of this is because water used in agriculture has been repurposed for use in urban areas and industrial use. The authors are pessimistic that the falling water tables can be used for both purposes simultaneously, which means the agricultural economy in the state will continue to be badly damaged.

New Mexico’s GDP is about $95 billion. A $300 million dent in that is not substantial. However, the calculation is based on the fact that drought in the state will not get much worse quickly. At that point, the effect would become substantial. 

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