Allyson Siwik, Executive Director
Gila Conservation Coalition
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.