SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Recent rains have sent ashes and debris to a northeastern New Mexico river that supplies water to about 1,000 people, making it unfeasible for residents to draw water from it.
Monsoon rains swept up remnants from the burn scar left by a spring wildfire at Ute Park and sent it into the Cimarron River's currents.
"Every time it rains, it just turns to black," Damian Casias, the Village of Cimarron's public works supervisor, said of the Cimarron River.
The Cimarron River provided water for much of Colfax County including the Village of Cimarron, Springer and Raton, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Wednesday.
The Ute Park Fire, which burned about 58 square miles (150 square kilometers), strained the communities' water systems.
Crews are working to clean up muck in the river's reservoir, which is currently low after a dry winter.
With the river blackened, the reservoir is all the community has.
Tough water restrictions are being enforced. Residents are prohibited from washing their cars or watering their lawns.
"People are starting to cut back," Mayor Leo Martinez said.
Donors have helped buy bottled water for the community.
Some are not ruling the possibility of hauling in water.
Aside from hurting water systems, the fire, which started in May, also negatively impacted tourism and caused economic damage.
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.santafenewmexican.com