U.S. Water News Online
ESPANOLA, N.M. — Espanola wants to drill up to seven deep wells and appropriate billions of gallons of brine-filled water that would be treated to meet drinking water standards.
Espanola Mayor Joe Maestas said the notice to the state engineer secures the city's right to drill wells in the next 40 years, treat the water and add it to the municipal water system.
He said the deep wells would ensure a future water source for the northern New Mexico community, which also is considering a Rio Grande diversion project.
The city joins more than a dozen companies that notified the state earlier this year of intentions to drill deep wells. The notices were filed after the state engineer sought authority to regulate deep wells — those drilled at least 2,500 feet down.
Such wells tap into non-drinkable water that's separated from drinkable water in upper aquifers.
The 2009 state Legislature approved a bill giving the state engineer authority over deep wells drilled for municipal drinking water. Notices filed before the law takes effect are grandfathered in.
Espanola's notice said it plans four wells on state trust land and three on city property.
The city could pump up to 3,500 acre feet of water from each well annually. An acre-foot, about 326,000 gallons, can meet the annual water needs of one to two U.S. households.
Maestas said Espanola's 4,200 water customers currently are supplied completely by groundwater. The city is not able to drill new wells in shallower aquifers because of contamination.