New Mexico Signs Water Rights Settlement
A water rights settlement agreement will be formally signed by state and federal leaders today in Santa Fe, including New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. The landmark settlement will resolve the claims of the Pueblos of Nambe, Tesuque, Pojoaque, and San Ildefonso in one of the longest-running federal cases in the United States and a decades-long water rights adjudication in New Mexico.
This settlement was formerly signed by the Pueblos of Nambe, Tesuque, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, the City and County of Santa Fe, other non-Pueblo parties, and the State of New Mexico in 2006. Federal legislation was passed in 2010 authorizing the settlement and the construction of a regional water system to bring water into the Nambe-Pojoaque-Tesuque Basin in northern New Mexico. This settlement is known as the Aamodt Settlement after the first name listed in the water rights adjudication.
Leaders from all four Pueblos, State Engineer Scott Verhines, Attorney General Gary King, the Mayor of Santa Fe, Commissioner Kathy Holian and representatives for the County of Santa Fe, will be present to sign the conformed Settlement Agreement with Governor Susana Martinez and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at a signing ceremony to be held at the Bureau of Indian Education Indian School in Santa Fe.
“New Mexico has resolved one of our state’s longest, most contentious water disputes which began in the late sixties. I am honored to sign the settlement and am confident that we have protected water rights; thereby providing certainty to all and ending longstanding litigation for our citizens. I am proud that the Pueblo leaders from Nambe, Pojoaque, Tesuque and San Ildefonso, the acequia parciantes, the federal government, the state representatives, and everyone involved have worked together to find a solution” said New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. “This is proof that we can come together, work out our differences, and come to a positive agreement on behalf of our citizens.”
“We are resolving decades of disputes, preserving the seniority of water rights for the Pueblos and protecting the rights of the non-Pueblo users. I am grateful for the hundreds of people and thousands of hours that have been dedicated to reaching this landmark agreement. I urge New Mexicans to continue working together as we implement the terms of this settlement and keep New Mexico moving forward.”
The Settlement is complex and is based on many key concepts including: The Pueblos agreeing not make priority calls against non-Pueblo users, provided the non-Pueblo users agree to one of several options outlined in the Settlement Agreement. A regional water system (pipeline) will be constructed to deliver treated water to Pueblo and non-Pueblo users in the basin. Connecting to the pipeline will be optional. The United States will acquire 2,500 acre-feet of imported water per year in the basin for use by the Pueblos to compensate them for not fully exercising their rights to make a priority call. Santa Fe County is responsible for acquiring 750 acre-feet per year of imported water for the benefit of non-Pueblo users, and for a total supply of 1,500 acre-feet per year for use by non-Pueblo water users in the basin.