Opinions & Editorial Ground Water Impairment
What constitutes groundwater impairment?
The first thought that comes to mind is contamination of any kind. A second thought would be mining the water so as it would be depleted for future use. This however raises more questions such as when does impairment start, if the aquifer is not being recharged to meet future demand. Is 10% depletion a red flag, how about 20%? Of course this would be a moving target depending on what your goals are. If you are a developer you might think that 80 to 90% is an acceptable level of depletion. If you are a conservationist or an environmentalist any level of over drafting would be unacceptable.
Many aquifers in this country and around the world are in jeopardy of being pumped dry. So the question comes back to when is depletion considered an impairment? I would hate to think that as a society we would think that pumping an aquifer dry would be acceptable. I have been told that some employees of the Office of the State Engineer do not think that quantity impairment is all that bad in the New Mexico; as long as it leads to growth and economic benefit.
If the Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC gets it request for 54,000 acre feet of water, it opens the flood gate for others to come in and make similar requests. And why should they be denied if the APR gets their request? The state is and has been in drought for many years with little to no recharge to San Augustin Plains watershed. Should the residents of Socorro and Catron County be worried about such requests? How about other places within the state? The push from the developers is ongoing and they have the ears of some of our state representatives.