"It's the latest we've ever started the irrigation season," he said.

But he quickly warned that the small amount of water released will do little to bring substantial relief to the historic drought. Only 160,000 acre-feet of water will be distributed to irrigators in Doña Ana County, El Paso County and Mexico this season — about 5 percent of a full allocation.

"We're going to stretch it out as much as we can, but right now the plans are for a mid-July shut-off," Cortez added.

With the small release slowly working its way south in the parched and dry riverbed, irrigation officials complained about how long it is taking for water to reach Las Cruces. With the current critical shortage of available water in New Mexico's reservoir system, the irrigation season this year is expected to be over within 40 to 45 days, leaving chili pepper and pecan growers wondering whether they can produce a profitable crop this year.

In the eight-month period from Oct. 1, 2012, through the end of May, 2013, most of New Mexico received less than one inch of measurable rainfall.

“No part of the state has been spared,” reports Deirdre Kann at the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office.