Sunday, December 30, 2007

Water application draws protest

By Staci Matlock | The New Mexican 12/18/2007

A board member from the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the U.S. Forest Service and three conservation groups were among those filing more than 200 protests against a New York company's application to pump groundwater from the San Augustin Plains. [more]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gila Conservation Coalition Files Protest of Augustin Ranch Water Proposal

Allyson Siwik, Executive Director
Gila Conservation Coalition
575.538.8078 office
575.590.7619 cell

Gila Conservation Coalition Files Protest of Augustin Ranch Water Proposal

Protest cites potential impacts to Upper Gila River Basin

December 17, 2007; Silver City, NM --- The Gila Conservation Coalition, Center for Biological Diversity and the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance filed today with the Office of the State Engineer a protest of the Augustin Ranch LLC proposal to withdraw 54,000 acre-feet per year from the San Augustine groundwater aquifer to meet compact delivery requirements to Texas. The protest states that the Augustin Ranch application is detrimental to the public welfare and contrary to the conservation of water of the state.

“Given that there is some technical evidence that the San Augustine Basin recharges the headwaters of the Gila, we are very concerned about impacts to surface flows of the Gila River,” stated Allyson Siwik, Executive Director of the Gila Conservation Coalition. “Water withdrawals of this magnitude threaten the productivity of existing wells and the future water supply for the communities within the San Augustine Basin, as well as threaten the existence of springs and surface water flows, including the Gila River. The Gila River is New Mexico’s last free-flowing mainstem river and a number of threatened and endangered species rely on its natural cycle of flows for their survival.”

The protest explains that the proposal is contrary to the conservation of water of the state given that extracting such a large quantity of groundwater from the San Augustine Basin aquifer and piping it to the Rio Grande is a waste of New Mexico’s precious groundwater resources especially considering the significant evaporative losses that would result from storage in Elephant Butte Lake. Siwik stated that “Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe should be required to live within their water budgets rather than allowed to grow uncontrollably. Granting of this application would set a precedent for state water law that could impact rural areas such as ours throughout the state.”

Bruce Frederick, attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, filed the protest today on behalf of the conservation groups.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Great editorial with lots of food for thought at the Santa Fe New Mexican website: 'Ingeniero,' be wary of water-drilling deal

Bonanza! Our water worries are over! All our desert state has to do is give a New York water company carte blanche to drill a bunch of wells west of Socorro, out on the San Agustín Plains past the radiotelescope array. Then we'll find ourselves with 54,000 acre-feet of water we didn't even know we had ...

Gee, that'd go a long way toward paying our interstate-stream debt to Texas. In turn, it would allow the alfalfa farmers of the Río Grande Valley to cash in their water rights with developers dying to sprawl Albuquerque from horizon to horizon. The Phoenix-Las Vegas-Los Angeles triangle of subdivisions would have nothing on us. And is anybody interested in buying beachfront lots at Jornada del Muerto Estates?

Monday, December 10, 2007

1973 San Augustine Plains Hydrology Report

The 1973 San Augustine Plains Hydrology Report has been posted to the web at It is a PDF file for download, 4.5 MB.

ISC protest letter

Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 17:54:08 -0500
From: Bill Hume via Don Tripp

Greetings Rep. Tripp,

I heard you had some concerns about the San Augustin pumping application and the state's involvement. I can assure you that no agency of the state has a dog in this fight beyond the statutory duties of the state engineer to ultimately rule on the application. John D'Antonio has been quoted as saying due diligence on this will take at least two years. Also, in the attached letter, is the protest to the application filed late last week by ISC. [note: this letter is available as a PDF download at]

These sort of major water developments can't be dismissed out of hand as never being worthwhile, but this particular application is not on the state's radar screen as something to nurture or encourage. I will try to keep you posted on developments as I learn of them, and if you hear of something, please query me.

Regards, Bill Hume (office of the Governor of New Mexico)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Purpose of this blog

Welcome to this blog, the purpose for which is to pool our resources to work to save our water rights in Catron County.

Please review the information at and follow the directions for your protest letter. If you have more information to add or wish for help, please comment here. If you can help us in any way - volunteer your time, your resources, your legal or hydrological expertise - please email us directly at

Thank you.