U.S. Water News Online
SANTA FE, N.M. -- After decades of legal wrangling and
millions of dollars in legal fees, two New Mexico water rights
disputes have been partially settled.
U.S. District Judge John Edwards Conway signed decrees ending
water rights adjudication on the Red River and resolving all but
American Indian rights on the Jemez River.
State Engineer Tom Turney said the decrees are historic, and he
wants to move other water disputes along quickly.
``The need for adjudications has never been more evident,'' he
said, referring to the legal process that sorts out who owns
groundwater and surface water rights.
Water disputes must be resolved in order to allow for the
development of an organized and efficient water market, Turney said.
The state filed the lawsuit over water rights in the Red River
basin in 1972. The lawsuit over the Jemez River watershed was filed
by the Jemez, Santa Ana, and Zia pueblos in 1983.
Each of the cases involved hundreds of water users including
individuals with domestic wells, acequias, and corporations.
``I don't know how many tens of thousands of dollars and man-hours
have been spent on this,'' said DL Sanders, a special state attorney
general working with the state engineer.
The rights of the pueblos have yet to be determined in the Jemez
River case. A report and recommendations have been made, but it is a
very complex case, Sanders said.
Questa/Cerro Acequia director Wilfred Rael called the decision a
He said it originally seemed many people would be left out. He
says the acequia association organized 12 years ago to fight for more
rights to be recognized and they were successful.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.