Public Hearing on December 13th

The Office of the State Engineer (OSE) has scheduled a hearing on two motions for summary judgment in regards to the Augustin Plains Ranch application to appropriate 54,000 acre feet per year of groundwater in the San Augustin Basin for bulk commercial sale and for municipal uses.  The New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed one motion on behalf of its clients and the Catron County Board of County Commissioners filed the other motion.

Meeting Details
Date: Wednesday, December 13th
Time: 1:00 PM
Place: Catron County Courthouse, 101 Main Street, Reserve NM (map)

This case has major implications for water management in New Mexico and for the future of rural communities in our state that would likely be exposed to water mining if Augustin Plains Ranch’s application is approved.  The Law Center represents over 80 individuals, several homeowners’ associations, and the Gila Conservation Coalition.

Augustin Plains Ranch applied once before, but the OSE denied that application and the denial was upheld by the Seventh Judicial District Court. A second application was not accepted by the OSE for filing, but a third, “corrected”, application was accepted for filing and public notice.  The third application is the subject of the current proceeding.

The Law Center has filed a motion asking the State Engineer to dismiss the 2016 “Corrected” Application for two reasons.  The first is that the “corrected” application fails to identify specific beneficial uses and particular places of use and end users.  These are statutory requirements for an application and were also missing in the prior application that was denied by the State Engineer.  The second reason is that the previous rulings of the State Engineer and the State District Court dismissing the earlier application are binding on the State Engineer.  Those rulings require the State Engineer to dismiss the “Corrected” Application because it is substantially the same as the earlier application that was denied by the State Engineer and the State District Court.

If neither motion for summary judgement is granted, the Scheduling Order issued on August 10 this year sets the evidentiary hearing on the Ranch’s application for June, 2019.