A New Mexico city is down to less than 50 days' worth of water, after debris from wildfires contaminated the Gallinas River. Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo declared a water emergency after the river, which supplies all the city's water, became tainted by ash and other debris, ABC News reports. Las Vegas (not the city in Nevada) has stopped drawing from the Gallinas because the treatment plant can't handle the polluted water anyway; the city is now tapping reservoirs. The area has been dealing with the Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak Fire, the largest in New Mexico history.
The area also is enduring a severe drought. The fire season, which usually starts in June, began in April this year, Trujillo told WBUR. By early May, crews already had taken nearly a million gallons from Lake Isabel, near Las Vegas, to fight the wildfires, per KOB. Officials said they realized there was little water to spare but said safety of residents would come first. "We're going to use the water to preserve life," one official said. The mayor said the water supply has dwindled since his youth. "That river used to flow from bank to bank," Trujillo said. "And, you know, every spring we were afraid of the runoff." Now, he said, you can "jump over" the Gallinas. (Read more water supply stories.)