PLAINS RANCH WATER GRAB
Jan 17, 2017 -
Mexico's Land Grant and Severance Tax Permanent Funds: Renewable
Wealth from Non-Renewable Resources. ... New Mexico's Land Grant
and Severance Tax Permanent Funds were constitutionally created
to allow the state to save and invest the revenues it derives
from the extraction of natural resources statewide. Those funds,
responsibly invested, meet the dual goals of
growing New Mexico's wealth and serving current and future generations
of New Mexicans by funding public education. This type of system
has been instituted in other states, provinces, and countries
in the western United States, Canada, and abroad. Permanent funds
elsewhere have achieved varying degrees of success. This article
explores New Mexico's Land Grant and
Severance Tax Permanent Funds, evaluates such funds in other states,
and presents lessons to be learned from those funds. Finally,
this article proposes changes to New Mexico's funds based on these
lessons, which would allow New Mexico to continue to meet and
exceed the dual goals of the Land Grant and Severance Tax Permanent
areticle in the Summer 2008 Natural Resources Journal
17, 2017 -
- This is not royalties that go to the State to compensate for
using the States oil and gas resources.
does it go to?
is it going to help the people who no longer have water?
is okay to takes ones livelihood away so others can benefit
at their expense?
the collapse of a community justifiable so that others can profit
from a taking of a water resource?
would the State Engineer consider this course of action a way
forward in granting this application?
is not equivalent to oil and gas as it is already is being put
to a beneficial use and has senior rights
to its use over the junior rights of the LLC.
(More on this
SENATE BILL 86 ... 2017 -
AN ACT Relating to water Rights Notifications, Requiring the Office
of the State engineer to Post Notices On-line. Download
17, 2017 -
NM Legislation 2017 - - HOUSE MEMORIAL 1 -
Requesting the Interstate Stream Commission to Convene a Task
Force to Make recommendations to Correct Deficiencies in State
and Regional Water Planning Programs and Processes. Full
Legislation original weblink.
August 15, 2015 - Analysis: Weaknesses mar NMs capital outlay
13, 2017 -
NM State Engineer: You know, do we need to be looking at
something like a severance tax on that water?
an elaborate proposal to pump thousands of acre feet of water
150 miles to Albuquerque .... from the Augustin Plains Ranch (APR)
in Catron and Socorro counties about to trigger a new policy for
large scale water sales in New Mexico, treating water like oil
and gas including severance compensation as a political
sweetener for such a deal?
No Right to Free Water, Except for Nestlé. ... ormer Nestle
CEO Peter Brabeck is famous for denying that access to drinking
water is a human right. But based on the companys actions,
its management seems to believe that Nestlé Corporation
has a human right to free water. CounterPunch
9, 2017 - Whose water is it?
you apply for a water right or a permit for a well from the State
of New Mexico, it is assumed that there is water available for
diversion. If there are no other wells or surface diversions in
your vicinity then there will not be a likelihood of a protest.
However, if there are other diversions close to your proposed
diversion, those diversions would have prior existing rights over
would have to state how you are going to put this water to a beneficial
use. The State Engineer would then evaluate your application to
see if it meets the required standards for a permit to drill.
you knew that the existing wells in your area were shallow and
you wanted to put in a deeper well to ensure that you got all
the water that was granted under your application, the neighboring
well owners could challenge your application stating that you
would be impairing their water right of prior appropriation and
the fact that you could be over drafting the common aquifer and
cause their well or wells to go dry. The State Engineer could
respond, that their wells are not going to be impaired and
that those wells could always be drilled deeper. This concept
is a result of the Tom Morrison paper Guidelines for the
Assessment of Drawdown Estimates Feb. 2006. Of course this
could be a remedy; if it did not create a financial burden on
the owners of the prior existing water rights. What if the existing
wells were only about 200 feet deep and your well is 2,000 feet
deep? Would a 1,500 foot difference in depths be considered
impairment? This is a major difference and could cost the original
water right holders many hundreds of thousands of dollars to just
compete with your well. Isnt this also considered a type
of impairment financial in nature?
problem is that water generally flows down gradient, so that the
water you are pumping that lies under your property; when pumped
long enough and at much lower depth will cause the adjacent landowners
water to flow toward your well over time. This gradient flow is
the result of the cone of depression created at your well point.
The bottom line is that you are mining your neighbors water.
If this occurred in the oil patch , a law suit would follow
claiming a taking and you would have to pay for the oil you should
not have pumped along with damages. It is too bad that this does
not apply to water, a taking is a taking. So the question arises
as to whose water is it?
New Mexico the water belongs to the state and you have permission
under the permit system to only pump what you have been allocated
under that permit. If you do not use the water that has been allocated
the state can reduce your allocation to reflect what you are actually
using. This practice is very common when a watershed or an area
under goes adjudication. Adjudication is where all the water users
in an area undergoing adjudication have their water use history
researched and if the people cannot verify their water use they
may wind up having their amount of water use reduced. This may
seem harsh but once the water has been adjudicated the amount
of water granted is yours in perpetuity.
if the water in the state is the states water do whatever
they wish with it; except where there are water compacts with
other states that they otherwise obligated to comply with.
Can the state just give it away to the highest bidder or to people
that know how to play the political game of saying that the water
is to be used for the greater good of the states residents.
This is the case where there are winners and there are losers.
In most cases the losers are residents in the rural areas of the
state. This is the case where a major development in the Albuquerque
area (Santolina Project) that is proposed but not yet approved,
is trying to get water from the San Augustin Plains at the expense
of the residents that live there.
again I come back to whose water is it? If you remember that,
water is life, if you control the one you control the other.
So water is a political pawn that is played with by the rich and
influential to their financial gain and the end user is non-consequential.
Dennis Inman - Geologist - Download
for the Assessment of Drawdown
Groundwater Hydrology and Evaluation Porcedures - Training Manual
6, 2017 -
Business group lists priorities for legislative session...
Of particular interest is privatization of wate, and the support
... creation of public-private partnerships to develop water infrastructure
that will provide public benefits, such as economical infrastructure
project delivery and water conservation. NM
the Mirage The Future of Water in the West -
Video on YouTube
5, 2017 - The Great Public Land Heist Has Begun
demonstrable public will and with strong opposition from environmentalists,
hunters, anglers, the Department of the Interior, and the outdoor
recreation industry, among others, Republican lawmakers are attempting
to transfer control of your public lands from federal to state governments
in a thinly-veiled attempt to force their sale for purposes of resource
exploitation. Now, the first blow has been struck. -
current Congressional Budget Office accounting rules, any transfer
of federal land that generates revenue for the U.S. Treasury - whether
through energy extraction, logging, grazing or other activities
- has a cost. If lawmakers wanted to give such land to a state,
local government or tribe, they would have to account for that loss
in expected cash flow.
impact of the rules change is that lawmakers cannot raise a budgetary
point of order if a land transfer bill comes to the floor. Under
existing House rules, any measure that costs the U.S. Treasury money
must be offset by either budget cuts or a revenue-raising provision.
UT Congressman Rob Bishop:
"Bishop's initial act upon his appointment as Chairman Natural
Resources was his decision to hire several oil and gas industry
officials to work on the subcommittee that oversees oil and gas
leases on public lands. Press coverage that highlights industry
insiders working for the chairman contributes to the impression
that Washington D.C.s revolving door is alive and well at
the Natural Resources Committee...."
Rest of the story - WestWise
- 1ST SESSION - H. RES. 5. The Bill, HR-115
April 9, 2015
- Republicans just voted to sell off your national forests
January 3, 2017
- House GOP rules change will make it easier to sell off federal
January 4, 2017
- Selling off public lands. The House rule change that went unnoticed.
2016 - Ute Tribe declares political war with Rep. Rob Bishop. SLTrib
22, 2016 -
bill to sell national forests passes committee
above article here
23, 2016 - Indian Power - New Mexico tribes catapult into politics
and join the state's water tug-of-war. (April 2003 - scroll
19, 2016 -
Intent of the Office of the State Engineer -
the intent of the Office of the State Engineer when it comes to
dealing with large water withdrawals from one basin to another (inter-basin
transfers)? This is a question that is on minds of the residents
of the Plains of San Augustin. The notion that the transferring
of water from one location to another so that that one group of
people can live and prosper at the expense of another group of people
is flawed thinking, to many of the rural residents in New Mexico.
The Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC application for 54,000 acre feet
of water annually from the Plains of San Augustin is just such a
plan. And if this application is granted by the State Engineer;
why wouldn't another application from this location, not be granted?
Is it the intent to drain the Plains of San Augustin so that the
current residents have to move somewhere else?
brings up the question of impairment to existing wells and water
rights. If rich people with political connections and influence
can sway the State Engineer and his office to grant these transfers
at the expense of people in rural areas and cause financial difficulties
as well as drain their aquifer is this not impairment? This is something
that is not supposed to happen under state statutes. When and if
the LLC gets their request and the project goes forward, it is not
just a matter of the local rancher and other current residents in
the basin to deepen their wells. This is matter of drilling new
wells to a depth of 2,000 feet to compete with the LLC's wells.
This would place a financial hardship on these folks and bankrupt
many others, as they do not have the financial resources that the
LLC has. Is this type of activity really in the states best interest?
Why would they want to harm or alienate one group of people in favor
Plains of San Augustin are already feeling the effects of a prolong
draught and the existing pumping of water under the state's permit
system. There are wells in the southwestern part of the plains that
are showing signs of decline. With the groundwater gradient flow
for the whole basin toward the southwest and the Continental Divide
this does not bode well for the Gila and San Francisco Rivers which
have been adjudicated under the Arizona Water Settlement Act (AWSA).
This application has the potential to decrease the amount of available
water to the aforementioned rivers which opens the State up for
yet another water law suit. The basin is leaking groundwater at
such a rate that annual rain and snow fall is NOT recharging the
why is this application still going forward? Is there an agenda
that we are unaware of, or is it just incompetence on the State's
part, that 10 years later we are still dealing with this screwball
Dennis Inman - Geologist.
Download the commentary
7, 2017 -
Two books that may be of interest re: APR issue
Grants & Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico by Malcolm Ebright,
(Southwest books - Center
for land grant studies
Water & Culture: New Perspectives on Hispanic Land Grants, -
Briggs, 1987 (Amazon link)
are several pertinent articles reference in the Ebright work, from
the Journal of the Southwest, Autumn, 1990. They go with this excerpt....
Hispanic practices as to the location and boundaries of land grants,
water rights, do not conform and have not conformed to Anglo-American
standards for legal descriptions...as a result...
Absolute title with the right to sell water is an Anglo concept
imposed on New Mexico water users fairly recently, and like the
imposition of a partition suit, it will inevitably lead to the loss
of water rights, just as the partition suit resulted in the loss
of common lands. Communal control of irrigation water by acequia
associations has helped the communities that use those resources
to survive, but with privatization both water rights and the communities
themselves are in jeopardy...." - Frances Levine in "Dividing
the full text of articles from the Autumn issue of Journal of the
Southwest that may be of use giving some legal and common law background
behind some of these water fights....
Rights Law and Tradition.pdf
entire Autumn, 1990 issue of Journal of the Southwest was devoted
to Water Rights in New Mexico. (Three examples below) Of course,
there are many other studies, some more recent, but the back-grounding
in the issues were adjudicated in the courts of the last 60-70 years....
Water, and Pueblo-Hispanic Relations in Northern New Mexico - Autumn
Research on Land and Water in New Mexico: A Critique - Autumn 1900
Never-ending source of Water: Agriculture, Society, and Aquifer
Deletion on the Coast of Hermosillo, Snorooa - Winter 2012 - Moreno
researching the subject documents it's important to make a distinction
between water law, water rights, surface water and groundwater.
The term acquifer[s] is not useful because most of the hydrological
studies that refer to acquifers do so in terms of groundwater vs.
surface water. There is an additional problem because while everyone
knows that surface waters are related to rivers and groundwater
basins, the knowledge of groundwater.
Sources are often highly technical in its exact relationship. Claims
about recharging groundwater resources periodically, or about depleting
torture the definitions of water rights on
the surface and their relationship to groundwater basins and the
connection of those groundwater resources to flowing rivers. The
geologic fact of the course of the Rio Grande through New Mexico
has also made arguments about urban growth and water resource management
highly political....and stretched the concepts around common lands
2 articles below are representative about the issues and case law
Of course the APR issue is "privatization" of something
underground that can be attached or sold off like a separate mineral
resource and detached from or attached to the concept of private
property. That may mean that they can put the resource into a deed
of conveyance, but the issue of adjudicating the true ownership
of the same resource in a court of law is often technical and highly
flawed when it comes to politicians, judges, and state agencies
such as the New Mexico State Engineer....having been captured by
The issues about
whether the community, smaller or larger, has rights to manage the
use of groundwater resources have not recently been accorded priority
when stood up against private property concepts.
From the Chicago-Kent
College of Law Scholarly Commons @ IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
Supply and Urban Growth in NM - Same old same old, or a new era
- March 1, 2003
Aquifers: Conceptual Models for Development of International Law
- Ground Water 43 No.5 Eckstein
commentary above can be downloaded here
Journal of the Southwest (wiki)
Journal of the
on P3 in the context of the Plains water project is like complaining
that the mugger who slugged me and stole my wallet had dirty fingernails.
It is not the subject of primary concern. .
(the legislation) includes both surface and underground
I see that it adds a few requirements to those already required
to be addressed by the OSE. However, I don't see that it presents
special hurdles to the APR, and it also lacks detail in some areas:
the entity in the receiving basin has prepared and implemented a
drought contingency plan and an approved water conservation plan;
presently and prospectively derived from the return flow of water
used within the basin of
origin that will be eliminated by the proposed out-of-basin use;
What is return
flow? Return from where?
the source of supply can reliably sustain the diversion's anticipated
firm yield considering the
predicted effects of climate change on precipitation patterns and
temperature in the basin of origin.
The APR, despite
its greenwashing about capturing surface water for recharging the
aquifer, admits that there is negligible natural recharge and has
presented no evidence that it can achieve artificial recharge. It
claims that irrespective of such activity (and thus of climate-associated
changes to precipitation patterns) the water reservoir underlying
the Plains contains 300 years' worth of pumping at the stated rate.
So all it has to do to meet condition 11) is abandon the flimsy
pretense that it will do any recharging.
Finally, if I were the APR, I'd guarantee Plains residents an ample
supply of water at a nominal rate. My money's being made from the
Valley communities, especially once they're dependent on "my"
water to sustain the overdevelopment that its consumption permits.
I see no problem doling out a few hundred acre-feet to keep the
So what are
you prepared to do when the APR makes this guarantee: never mind
about your wells; we'll meet your water needs!
First, do you
object to this situation? If not, where's the problem?
Second: if you
do object to it, what in any existing or proposed water law gives
you any legal ground to prevent it? I really think you ought to
answer both of these questions. If you can't, this legislation business
just invites pettifoggery on both sides by evading the real issue.
Happily, I don't
see how the APR can expect to overcome the objection that wrecked
their previous proposal: they have no end user and are merely speculating.
(1) Links to SB 77 -
NM SB 77 link to NM.gov or
Basin Water Transfer Senate bill 2014
Jim Nelson - Magdalena
the above commentary