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The Aamodt Settlement Agreement (ASA) will determine the groundwater rights for well owners in a portion of Santa Fe County.
The history of the groundwater disputes that led to federal court involvement and the development of the ASA is well documented below.
The ASA, the regulations to implement it and the fate of all of the wells in the affected area are scheduled to be finalized by the end of September of 2016.
Why is this important to you, your neighbors and to the value of your property? This matter is important for property owners in the Tano Road area because:
1) The well on your property may be affected by the ASA. Some, but not all, properties in the Tano Road area lie within the geographic area covered by the ASA.
If you are unsure whether your property will be affected, you should find out by contacting the State Engineer Water Rights Division. Contact information appears below.
2) How much water will each well be entitled to pump? What restrictions are placed on how the water can be used? What options are available to Tano Aamodt well owners before implementation of the ASA is finalized in September?
The answers to these questions depend on when your well was constructed and other factors. The way to resolve these questions is for you or your attorney to meet with the Sate Engineer and ensure that you understand what your water rights are or can be.
3) You may not have received prior notifications from the State for a number of reasons:
- Your property is managed by a trustee who receives the relevant correspondence,
- You are not the well owner, but share a well located on another person’s property within the Aamodt boundary,
- Notifications are being sent to a previous owner because the water rights were never transferred to your name.
- Notifications have been sent to registered well owners and undeveloped property may not yet have a well.
At the meeting held August 15, 2016, the speakers noted that they have worked hard to establish a communications data base, but cannot guarantee they are reaching all of the property owners who might be affected. A request was made for all notifications to (also) be sent to the property owner (or trust) shown on the Santa Fe County property tax listings.
If you have not received official notifications from the State, you or your attorney should contact the State Engineer to ensure you are on the contact list and that your contact information is correct.
4) If you share a well with one or more adjacent property owners, you should be certain that the amount of the water allocated to your well reflects the number of homes relying on the well. From what was said at the August 15th meeting, the default allocation may be only for the home on the property on which the well is located.
If a shared well is on property you own, you should ensure the water right assigned under the ASA will accommodate the uses of the property owners with whom you share the well.
If a shared well is on your neighbor’s property, you should ensure that your neighbor is aware of this issue and files the appropriate papers to ensure you will be entitled to water in the future.
5) If your property has more than one house on it, you will need to make sure the water right assigned to your well will accommodate all of the houses on your property.
The way to do this is to meet with the State Engineer.
Additional notifications will be sent out by the State, but the timing of those notices has not yet been determined. The notifications will ask you to elect which option under the ASA you want to exercise, and to do so by a date certain.
Take the steps necessary to ensure you will receive these notifications and act promptly to determine what your water rights will be.
The above comments are based on observations at the public information meeting held by Representative Trujillo on August 15, 2016.
Contacts for further information or assistance:
State Engineer’s Office Water Rights Division 505-827-6120
Representative Carl Trujillo, New Mexico State Representative District 46 email@example.com
All Tano area residents and well owners will want to be informed about the important regional water activity taking place to the north of our neighborhood in the District 1 area of the County, as well as the City’s application to use the NW Well located near the southern boundary of our neighborhood. Tano area wells are now at the epicenter of a growing number of government water actions and developments, and this makes our success in the NW Well protest against the City even more crucial to the long-range health of our domestic wells.
In 2017, the Aamodt Settlement Agreement (ASA) may be finalized, and an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the Nambe/Pojoaque/Tesuque (NPT) basin is due for completion. If the ASA is finalized, and the EIS is acceptable, construction will begin on the Aamodt Regional Water System (RWS).
The Aamodt RWS treatment facility will be located on Pueblo land in the northern section of District 1, and it is anticipated that this water system will primarily serve water users north of the Tano area. There are plans to drill several deep back-up wells and/or injection wells ‘up-aquifer’ from from our neighborhood as part of the Aamodt RWS. This County/State/Federal water project is due for completion in 2024.
There are also preliminary plans being developed for a separate County Water Utility (CWU) to serve the southern-most portion of the NPT basin, including the Tano area. See the webpage ‘Is There a County Water Utility (CWU) in TRA’s Future??‘ for information on this topic, provided by Adam Leigland, Director, County Public Works Department.
A Notice and Order to Show Cause, along with other Aamodt Settlement Agreement (ASA) documents and response forms, was mailed out on January 17, 2015, to an OSE mailing list of about 6,000 well owners in the Nambe/Pojoaque/Tesuque (NPT) Basin. According to a map prepared by the OSE Hydrology Group, 2013, there are about 120 Tano area wells (about 2/3rds of our neighborhood’s wells) located in the NPT.
The TRA will not be taking a position on the ASA because only Tano well owners in the NPT portion of our neighborhood have standing in this matter.
Do you have questions about the Aamodt Settlement or the Regional Water System? Sandra Ely, Santa Fe County Aamodt Project Manager, is holding office hours at the Pojoaque satellite office every Tuesday from 4 PM to 6 PM to help with those questions.
No appointment is required, simply stop by the Pojoaque satellite office located at 5 West Gutierrez, Suite 9 in the Pojoaque Pueblo Plaza (just down from True Value Hardware).
Or contact Sandra:
Sandra Ely, Project Manager III- Aamodt
Santa Fe County Utilities
(505) 986-2426 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions regarding well location are answered by Darcy Bushnell with the Utton Center at UNM School of Law. Darcy may be reached at email@example.com or (505) 277-0551. Darcy is also the go to person regarding questions related to adjudication of individual wells.