Opin­ions & Editorial Ground Wa­ter Im­pair­ment

Catron Courier - - Front Page - By Dennis In­man

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.

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