Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
New Mexico’s Rivers Safe from Ill-Conceived Pumping Scheme
Yesterday, the New Mexico State Engineer dismissed a second attempt by Augustin Plains Ranch to push through a speculative scheme for mining groundwater in central New Mexico. In 2016, WildEarth Guardians, farmers, ranchers, and local communities protested the Ranch’s second application to annually pump and transport 54,000 acre-feet of water from beneath its ranch in Datil to unidentified users in the Rio Grande valley.
WildEarth Guardians protested the application because of a concern that water pumped from beneath the San Augustin Plains could deplete flows in Alamosa Creek, the Gila River, and the Rio Grande. The State Engineer recognized that the application is “contrary” to the prior appropriation doctrine because the Ranch can only speculate as to the end users of the water.
“This decision is a great step in the right direction toward learning to live within our means,” said Jen Pelz, Rio Grande Waterkeeper and Wild Rivers program director at WildEarth Guardians. “We need to rethink rivers and water, and stop hoping some other source of water will bail us out.”
“This decision is a victory for the ecosystems and communities supported by our rivers and underground aquifers,” said Samantha Ruscavage-Barz, Managing Attorney at WildEarth Guardians. “It would be an egregious violation of the public trust for the State to allow a public resource to be monopolized for private profit.”