Draining Aquifers to Extinction

Measurement data has shown regularly increasing drawdowns of aquifers in many, perhaps most, areas of the state,  This is visible particularly in "closed" basins that don't have regularly flowing rivers to provide recharge.  The State Engineer's rules do not currently provide a plan or mechanism to prevent (or delay) the aquifers' becoming dry or impractical to pump.

Posts - Any technical papers, data, opinions, announcements, etc. that relate to this Draining Aquifers to Extinction issue appear just below.

Los Lunas – Niagara Bottled Water

By Valencia Water Watchers | April 3, 2024

NM Acequia Association came bringing signs that read, “Agua es Vida”  and brightly painted shovels painted with the patron saint of the acequias, San Ysidro, which they bring out when there are times of drought. Dabi Garcia said, “This is a time when our community is under threat.” He then sang a traditional acequia song, keeping the beat on the shovel handle.

Read More

Commentary: Surviving a drought

By Bob Wessely | January 31, 2024

Drought – nature’s reminder that water does not grow on trees.

Drought is the time when some form of government advice or regulation prescribes that we collectively choose to reduce our uses of water, usually because of some form of government advice or regulation. It is the time when

Read More

Why Should You Plan for Water?

By Bob Wessely | January 3, 2024

Who gets water when there isn’t enough? At a simplified level, the current “Priority Administration” regulations, if enforced when there isn’t enough water, would provide water to Nations/Tribes/Pueblos and other senior irrigators first, leaving very thirsty cities and towns. And with desperately thirsty cities and towns, the New Mexico economy would wither, taking down

Read More

Water Rights … and Water Wrongs

By Bob Wessely | December 6, 2023

While the rules about them are extremely complicated, “water rights” are simply your permission slip from the State to use water, if you can find it (often a big “if”).  ll too often people conflate paper water and wet water. The results can be seriously misleading or worse. 

Read More

UNM’s Middle Rio Grande Water Data Dashboard: Status Report & What’s Next

By Norm Gaume | October 2, 2023

The Water Data Dashboard will be online at the end of this semester as an interactive website prototype with integrated graphic views and drill-down features, illustrating where our water comes from, where it is going, and what we need to know but don’t.

Read More

The 2024 Legislature Must Think Water: Act Now!

By Executive Council | August 10, 2023

Wake Up New Mexico. Collectively, we are asleep at the wheel. Our collective inaction puts our water security, and therefore our economic security, at risk.

Read More

New Mexico Water Governance Reform is Essential to Increase Water Sustainability and Reduce Future Water Insecurity

By Executive Council | August 1, 2022

New Mexico’s existing water governance is not working and is wrong for the 21st century.

Read More

Water Wells Are at Risk of Going Dry in the U.S. and Worldwide

By Carolyn Kennedy | May 12, 2021

The Conversation (funded by the University of California has published “Water Wells Are at Risk of Going Dry in the U.S. and Worldwide” by Professors Debra Perrone and Scott Jasechko, University of California at Santa Barbara, addressing the worldwide decline of groundwater. “As the drought outlook for the Western U.S. becomes increasingly bleak, attention is turning…

Read More

East Mountain Fire & Water Issues – Town Hall Meeting

By Executive Council | April 23, 2021

Bernalillo County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty will be holding a Town Hall Meeting starting at 5:30 pm on Thursday, April 29, 2021. The session will address water shortage problems in the mountains east of Albuquerque. With the ongoing drought and depletion of our aquifers, we need opportunities to share concerns, information, and ideas on fire and…

Read More

State engineer pauses groundwater permits

By Executive Council | April 12, 2021

The Albuquerque Journal published “State engineer pauses groundwater permits” in its April 4, 2021 issue, addressing oil and gas use of fresh water in southeastern New Mexico. Following are excerpts of the article plus additional related information. State Engineer John D’Antonio has restricted new groundwater permits in three basins of far southeastern New Mexico to study…

Read More

We welcome postings on this or other water-related issues from interested parties.  Please email your posts, preferably in Word format, to the Editorial Board at Info@MRGWaterAdvocates.org

Description of the Issue

In several areas of the state, New Mexico groundwater uses are substantially draining aquifers. There are no rules or plans to avoid the extinction of the aquifers in the not too distant future.  The original New Mexico plan for the future of the aquifers remains in place.  That plan allows groundwater pumping amounts from individual aquifers that would leave half of the stored groundwater in the aquifer after 40 years.

The historical and still-existing plan was developed based on the sole objective to provide water for economic activity.  Preserving water for future generations was not and is not a criterion.

Examples of aquifers that are being drained include the Ogallala Aquifer, the Mimbres Basin aquifer system, and Estancia Basin Aquifer. Irrigation is the principal use in all three areas. The local aquifers in the Placitas area are another example. Domestic wells are the principal use.

The costs to New Mexico's economy and people when aquifers are depleted will be very high yet the state has no plans to address this crucial problem, other than to import water from elsewhere. The Ute Reservoir pipeline from the Canadian River to the Clovis and Portales area will replace a very small fraction of current and historical groundwater pumping from the practically exhausted Ogallala aquifer. The cost is over half a billion dollars.

A New Mexico Bureau of Geology news article and open file report and a NM Political report detailed story describe the Ogallala aquifer depletion and future.

They also use the Ogallala Aquifer situation as an example of the importance of water data.

The Water Advocates point to the end of the Ogallala Aquifer as an example of the uncontrolled depletion of the water resource providing water to a large portion of New Mexico, with little consideration of the consequences.  What happens to the economy and the people when water is very limited? Is that what we want for the future of other closed basin aquifers and the New Mexicans whose water comes from those aquifers?



Subscribe to our Newsletter