Regional
2:32 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Water Request Denied

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state's top water official has denied a request from a New York-based commercial venture that sought to drill more than three dozen wells in western New Mexico.

Rural residents, one of the state's largest irrigation districts and others had described the application as a modern-day water grab.

State Engineer Scott Verhines says he denied the request by Augustin Plains Ranch because it was vague, too broad and the effects couldn't be reasonably evaluated.

One of the most contested applications in the history of the state engineer's office, it called for drilling 37 wells, each capable of pumping 2,000 gallons of water per minute.

In all, the company was asking to pump more than 17 billion gallons a year from beneath the plains to supplement supplies in the Rio Grande Valley.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.