Square in the middle of three years of intense drought conditions, New Mexico is dealing with an escalating water problem that has now caused one town, Magdalena, to run out of water, forcing city officials to scramble for solutions to bring relief to local residents and businesses.

The water table in the town has dropped almost 20 feet since January due to the persistent drought that has troubled most of the Southwest over the last two years, and now into the third summer season. Town officials say it is because of the extreme drought and infrastructure problems in the well that caused it to collapse.

Town officials want help from the State of New Mexico to dig a deeper well and in the interim are relying on water tenders from nearby White Sands Missile Range to truck in water to help local water users.

Magdalena's well is not the first to fail. Across the eastern plains of New Mexico livestock wells stand empty and ranchers are selling their cattle, and wells near Santa Fe and Las Vegas (New Mexico) have also run dry or nearly dry in recent weeks.

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Meanwhile, Hatch chili pepper growers and southern New Mexico's pecan orchards received news last week that the first release of irrigation water from Sierra County reservoirs is beginning to trickle down the Rio Grande River near Las Cruces and is available for use, but hardly enough, as one grower put it, "to make a difference."

Bert Cortez, manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in El Paso, says farmers and ranchers all across southern New Mexico have been patiently awaiting water releases from Elephant Butte reservoir.