NM Irrigation District Critic Wins Court Decision

Apr 30, 2013

The state Court of Appeals has ruled against a government licensing board for penalizing an outspoken Albuquerque hydrologist, who criticized operations of a Rio Grande irrigation group.

The court said former Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board member Bill Turner's constitutional free speech rights were violated by the state Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors, which fined Turner in 2009 for practicing engineering without a license.

A report by Turner questioned the district's practice of lining irrigation ditches with chunks of concrete and construction waste. He served on the district's governing board at the time and often clashed with the district's chief engineer, who also served on the licensing board.

The court ruled last week that Turner didn't act as an engineer in preparing the report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.