- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - If the dead lawns, blowing dust and dwindling flows in the Rio Grande don’t offer enough evidence of the dry conditions, the largest water utility in New Mexico has issued an official drought advisory for its customers.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority announced the advisory Wednesday. It notes that conditions across most of the county are classified as severe.

The utility is now authorized to take steps to increase public awareness and continue alerting customers to conservation programs.

Utility conservation officer Katherine Yuhas says water-waste and time-of-day watering rules are already in place and more billboard space around Albuquerque will be dedicated to encouraging conservation.

She says water use is down compared to the last two years.

The city of Santa Fe also reports its daily water use has decreased 5 percent this year.