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IMPROVING NEW MEXICO’S WATER MANAGEMENT - page 31 / 47

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in New Mexico that has not been appropriated for use. But this not a problem, there is plenty of

water for New Mexico to grow and prosper for a very long time.

Adjudication, a prerequisite for Working Water Law

There is a major problem with New Mexico water allocation and water law. This problem

is so substantial that all other water problems can not be solved unless this issue is expediently

addressed. The majority of surface water users in New Mexico do not have adjudicated water

rights. This is similar to claiming land without a deed. Without adjudication there are many false

claims to water. The OSE has estimated that there are three times more claims to water than what

is actually available in the Rio Grande. It is not that OSE does not recognize that it is essential to

establish who owns what water rights; it is that the adjudication process has taken many years to

hear claims. There are legal obstacles such as suits, tribal issues; the list goes on and on. But the

bottom line is that we cannot afford to adjudicate at the pace we are currently preceding. Without

a complete adjudication, the question of who gets what water becomes very murky. The OSE

has taken the taken the position that in times of water shortages everyone must conserve. But

consider a huge company like Intel. The Rio Rancho plant produces billions of dollars of

computer chips and employs thousands of New Mexicans – it is a huge component of our

economy. They certainly cannot afford to have their water consumption curtailed. If required to

do so, they will simply leave for a state that is more reliable. With adjudication, Intel would

purchase sufficient senior water rights to keep going under all circumstances.

There is no priority without an adjudication process. This is the formal determination of

the date at which water was originally put to beneficial use and whether it has continued to

beneficially used. The original permit to divert water (appropriation) is not sufficient to allocated

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