News and Items of Interest:
UPDATE ON GROUNDWATER ADMINISTRATION IN LOWER RIO GRANDE
New Mexico Pecan Growers has worked with the State Engineer and the Southern Rio Grande Diversified Crop Farmers Association (SRGDCFA) to develop a process to track combined groundwater usage associated with “farms under the same management/ownership” as provided in the Final Judgment for Stream System Issue No. 1 in the Lower Rio Grande water rights adjudication (the “Judgment”). Farmers wishing to combine their groundwater usage must submit an “OWMAN” form (accessed here) to the State Engineer by April 10th of the irrigation year. Once the State Engineer has an acceptable OWMAN plan on file, it will keep track of water use under that plan through a “farm account” system within the New Mexico Water Rights Reporting System, the State Engineer’s online water rights database. For more information regarding this issue, please review the State Engineer’s information letter, accessed here.
It is important for all farmers to notify the State Engineer of any farm operations conducted under the “combined” owner/management provision of the Judgment; otherwise they will be at risk of the State Engineer determining a particular well is over-diverting.
Finally, NMPG continues to work cooperatively with SRGDCFA and the State Engineer to develop a groundwater bank that would allow groundwater rights associated with fallowed lands to be offered to farmers who may need repayment water in instances where an over diversion has occurred, or where an over diversion would have occurred without the replacement rights. Check back soon for updates on this important issue
The Southern Rio Grande Diversified Crop Farmers Association and New Mexico Pecan Growers invite their members to a public meeting with New Mexico State Engineer Scott Verhines on Friday, June 7, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum. State Engineer Verhines will provide information concerning OSE efforts to work with the grower groups to implement administration of groundwater in the Lower Rio Grande in accordance with the August 22, 2011 Final Judgment and Settlement entered in the Lower Rio Grande Water Rights Adjudication.
This cooperative effort is contemplated in Settlement Provision VI.h. which provides:
h. The NMPG and SRGDCFA understand and accept that the New Mexico State Engineer has the obligation to supervise the apportionment of groundwater in the Lower Rio Grande, including the gw rights covered by this settlement. To meet his obligation, the State Engineer will, as necessary, implement priority administration or a system of alternative administration in the Lower Rio Grande, in accordance with the law. The non-State parties and EBID will work in good faith with the State Engineer and others to develop a regulatory framework for priority administration and/or alternative administration with the objective of reaching and supporting a consensus on the details of the administrative systems.
BENEFICIAL USE GREATER THAT 4.5 AFY/YEAR FORMS
In accordance with the Final Judgment entered in the Lower Rio Grande water rights adjudication, those pecan growers that want to demonstrate their orchards need more than 4.5 acre feet of irrigation water per acre per year must file with the Office of the State Engineer a Notice of Intent to Demonstrate Beneficial Use in Excess of 4.5 afy/acre. The deadline to file a Notice of Intent is December 31, 2011. Download, complete and return the form to the Office of NM State Engineer.
Notice of Intent Form
Notice of Intent Form (Immature Orchard)
FARMERS ARRIVE AT AGREEMENT IN WATER RIGHTS CASE
As you are aware, the amount of all irrigation water rights is being determined in the Lower Rio Grande water rights adjudication. NMPG has successfully worked with farmer groups and EBID to arrive at an equitable proposed settlement of the water requirements for all crops. The terms of the "Agreement for Settlement in Principle" can be read here (insert link). The proposed settlement is not yet finalized and NMPG will soon be holding two membership meetings to explain its terms. If the adjudication court approves the final agreement, this new agreement will supersede the Pecan Settlement.
Download the agreement (pdf - 2.7mb)
Hard copies of the proposed settlement are also available for pick up at the Farm Credit Office at 2800 Las Vegas Ct (map). off of Motel Blvd. in Las Cruces.
NMPG will be contacting NMPG members with the dates and times for the membership meetings soon.