Thursday, November 08, 2012

Eddy County may bring water fight to New Mexico statehouse

The rivalry between north and south Eddy County is well known, but dry water wells on farms and ranches in the north part of the county, and lack of irrigation water for farmers in South Eddy County, may be the catalyst in bringing unity to fight the state. The agriculture community in the Lakewood area says its shallow and artesian wells have dried up and it blames the State Engineer's Office and the New Mexico Interstate Streams Commission and their hydrologists. They contend that the state's 10 augmentation wells turned on to pump water into Brantley Dam for farmers in the Carlsbad Irrigation District were ill conceived. The wells, they say, were put in the wrong place. They should have been put further up stream where the elevation and water table would not be impacted. CID officials agree, saying while they are sympathetic to the plight of the farmers and ranchers to the north, the CID's agriculture members are also impaired. "We have the oldest water rights on the Pecos River, yet we have been impaired for years. We agree that the state's augmentation wells are in the wrong place, but if they turn off the pumps and don't pump through the winter, we will have absolutely nothing (water) next irrigation season if we don't get rain," CID Board President Charlie Jurva said. On Wednesday, the Eddy County Commission listened to the concerns of water users up river and suggested they should organize and get an injunction against the state to stop pumping. The commission also said it would send a letter to the state, voicing its concerns and asking for a remedy to help the 20 or more well owners whose wells have gone dry. Cheryl Griffith, who manages a ranch in Lakewood and has collected data showing the adverse impact of the state's well field at Seven Rivers, about 15 miles north of Carlsbad, said letters and emails sent to the Interstate Stream Commission and the State Engineer have gone unanswered...more

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