Although I am no longer involved in the New Mexico water planning process I still am fascinated by and interested in it. I am on the Middle Rio Grande (Alubuquerque area - one of the 16 planning regions - see map at left) Water Assembly (MRGWA) email list and am amazed at the degree of engagement and detail in some of the posts. I was one of the small group that helped kick-start this process in the mid-to-late 1990s.
Sigmund 'Sig' Silber, one of the mainstays of aforementioned list, wrote a piece for the Santa Fe Reporter, "What an update to the state water plan means for New Mexico". In it, he mentions that the update may have a stronger 'basin-centric' approach based on 12 river and groundwater basins. I think that's a good idea. And groundwater basins? Whoa - awesome!
In this post I am not going to comment on Silber's article or the likely update, but simply wanted to post this response to Silber's piece, which intrigued me but didn't surprise me. I know the respondent; he's a good guy, but obviously not a fan of the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) or the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC).
After all the years of being ignored and abused, (re: citizens have donated mega time and VOLUNTEER effort via the Water Assembly to make the Plan work and have been completely ignored and neglected, and even opposed, by the OSE and ISC), some of us might not have as much confidence in our bureaucracies as you do. I, for one, am not going to donate any more time and resources to water planning until the OSE and ISC rescind their public POLICY statements that money and making money is not only the highest value of water, it's the only value of water. (examine what they do and not what they say)
Pledge to start implementing constitutional water code provisions that protect senior rights from impairment and abuse.
Pledge to stop ignoring court orders.
Pledge to stop being opposing parties in hearings and litigation, especially in OSE hearings, where the State Engineer appoints the hearing officer (judge) and then proceeds to be a party in the case. This isn't the Soviet Union.
Pledge to honor the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Protocol of Querétero, as per the NM Constitution.
Recognize the value of agriculture, especially traditional agriculture, as imperative to meeting the future.
Pledge to halt writing permits that will drop water tables and, in reality, impair rights-all rights.
Pledge to start real adjudications of water rights that don't end up as cash cow settlements for local governments, the development industry, and grow-grow-grow politicians without actually determining any water rights. If you can't take out a priority call with your rights, they ain't really adjudicated.
Pledge to assist in legislation that truly restores the rights of acequias and other old water rights and institutions, like land grants.
Pledge to assist in restoring former acequias that are now part of conservancy districts.
Pledge to assist and not oppose projects that conserve water and develop new sources, such as water harvesting.
Take inventory on how many springs in NM have dried up due to groundwater pumping in the last 70 years.
Require meters on all wells where water is limited and have the readings published on a webpage so that all can see who is pumping what.I seriously doubt they will consider any of these, so I'm not going to waste my time with big time water planning anymore. There's too much to do locally.Power to the People!
"Carpe mañana!" - New Mexico state 'motto'
"Every calculation, based on experience elsewhere, fails in New Mexico." - Gen. Lew Wallace, Territorial Governor, 1878