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LOWER RIO GRANDE WATER RIGHTS DECLARATION


The adjudication of water rights in the Lower Rio Grande has been in the courts now for many years.  During all of that time, the State Engineer has been dickering with the United States and the Elephant Butte Irrigation District over how much water they both should own.  These negotiations pre-suppose that the State Engineer has any standing or authority to negotiate anything and that the United States, the Elephant Butte Irrigation District and the farmers within the boundaries of the EBID have any water rights at all.  In fact evidence presented to the LRG adjudication court as an Amicus Curiae Brief shows that farmers whose land is upland on the mesas have no rights and neither the State Engineer nor the EBID have any standing under the doctrine of Privity to negotiate anything.  Water rights can not be gained through adverse possession, a position upheld by the State Engineer in their amicus curiae brief in Turner v. Bassett.  Consequently, the State Engineer is judicially estopped from changing their tune

Be this as it may, the U.S., EBID, and the State Engineer are in a steadfast conspiracy to designate all water rights within the LRG as having a priority date of January 25, 1906.  January 25, 1906 is the date that alleged Application No. 8 was allegedly filed for the Rio Grande Project.  Problem is that what is called Application No. 8 is a nul tiel record.  It doesn't exist. It is unsigned and bears no attribution to being submitted by the U.S. Reclamation Service to the Territorial Engineer as would be required by Section 8 of the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902. Additionally it is grossly deficient and incomplete in every regard.  The document bears the name of B.M. Hall as though perhaps he submitted it but it is not in B.M. Hall's handwriting.  It is likely the attempt by a secretary in the Office of the Territorial Engineer to fill out an application based on the January 23, 1906 letter from B.M. Hall reserving 2,000,000 acre feet of storage in the U.S.R.S. Elephant Butte Reservoir and 730,000 acre feet per year.  Therefore, it was not filled out by the U.S.R.S and it no application at all.

So, the January 25, 1906 date is a bogus date and we know from the surveys of Follett (1896) and Yeo (1910), from the reports of Homer Gault and the writings of Arthur Powell Davis, all U.S.R.S. employees in the 1890 to 1916 period, that about 30,000 acres of bottom land were irrigated with the normal flow of the Rio Grande and that they have pre-1900 priority dates.

In 2007, WaterBank® revealed for the first time, the existence of maps of irrigated areas prepared by James A. French, a U.S.R.S. surveyor, in 1903 that show the irrigated acreage at that time.  The French maps show about 31,000 acres of irrigated land.  What is particularly troubling is that  WaterBank® found the French maps buried in the files of the State Engineer and that the State Engineer had been hiding the ball from Judge Valentine for God knows how many years.

Through the efforts of WaterBank® , at public conferences at which Judge Valentine was present, Valentine became aware of the French Maps.  In 2007, Judge Valentine wrote to all parties in the LRG adjudication advised them that they may have pre-1907 water rights and he told them to file Declarations with the State Engineer so that their earlier priorities could be protected in the adjudication.

The State Engineer has remained intransigent and has not recognized the earlier priority dates.  Consequently, WaterBank® agreed to prepare a Declaration for a farmer in the LRG together with all supporting information.  The initial Declaration can be found by clicking here Because most aerial photography was not included in the Declaration,WaterBank® prepared an Amended Declaration which can be accessed by clicking here If you feel your water rights need protection or supporting documentation please call WaterBank® at 505-843-7643.  We provide water-rights validation studies.

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