(September 30, 2009)

A Buyer of water rights is only interested in buying valid water rights from a Seller. The Buyer does not want to prove the validity of the water rights. That is the job of the Seller. WaterBank® does not want to represent water rights that are not valid to a Seller. Therefore, WaterBank® requires sufficient information as to the validity of the water rights. This is obtained from a Water Rights Validation Audit.

A Water Rights Validation Audit is the process by which WaterBank® examines the records of the State Engineer and other public and private files to determine if a valid water right exists. It is a quick overview of the file. It is not a conclusive determination. It may involve a title search or preparation of a chain-of-title. Old deeds commonly contain information on land use. Only the examination of the file and a determination by the State Engineer is conclusive.  We follow the same process used by State Engineers and water courts.  Our Water Rights Validation Audits greatly facilitate the validation by State Engineers.

WaterBank® has all data in-house stored on our computers.  Further, we have the largest reference library in New Mexico on historical water use and water use practices and historical documents including correspondence, books, pamphlets, reports, and maps.  In many cases, we have more information than the State Engineer. 

We prepare a write up on our research with copies of all relevant documents for the client in a bound report.  The write up also assists the State Engineer and speeds up the processing of applications. 

In the Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, for example, the Water Audit may examine the following documents:

1. U.S. Bureau of Land Management Survey Maps and Field Notes beginning in the 1850's.

1. Sanborne Fire Insurance Maps.

2. Railroad Rights-of-Way and Property Maps beginning in the 1880's.

3. Railroad Rights-of-Way Warranty Deeds.

4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Survey Maps of 1912.

5. Middle Rio Grande Drainage Survey Maps of 1917 to 1918.

6. MRGCD Plane Table Maps of 1927.

7. Appraisal Sheets of 1925.

8. Aerial Photography beginning in 1935.

9. Tax Records beginning in 1882.

10. Census data beginning in 1880.

11. Court records.

12. Old U.S. Geological Survey Topographic Maps.

13. Old Spanish and Mexican Land Grant Deeds.

14.  Small Holding Claims Deeds and Land Patents.

15. Old County survey records.

16.  Old terrestrial photography.

17.  Old diaries and historical books.

An example of a WaterBank®  Water Rights Validation Audit can be seen by clicking here.  This audit was reviewed by consultants for the City of Santa Fe who believed five (5) acres in the southwest corner of the Tracts did not contain valid water rights.  Examination by the State Engineer agreed with WaterBank® and all of the water rights were sold to a developer in Santa Fe.

In the Lower Rio Grande WaterBank® has assembled a GIS project based on the Dona Ana County Assessors parcel map and other information listed below.

1.  1853-1898 Grant Maps

2.  The 1898 W.W. Follett Survey

4.  1903 James French Maps of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

5.  1910 Herbert Yeo Survey Report

6.  1914 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Maps.

7.  Aerial photography from 1935 to the present.

9.  State Engineer Hydrographic Survey Maps and associated data.

10.  Title documents if necessary.

11.  Court records.

This Water Rights Validation work was done in connection with a Declaration of Water Rights and in support of adjudication.  This Lower Rio Grande Water Rights Validation Audit can be viewed by clicking here.

The Water Rights Validation Audit generally takes a several days by our experienced staff.  In some difficult cases it may take more time.  WaterBank® charges an initial fee of $1,500 in the Middle Rio Grande for the first tract plus tax. If multiple tracts of land must be audited and if the tracts are contiguous or close to one another, WaterBank® will complete the other tracts for $500 per additional tract. In the Lower Rio Grande where our task is more difficult, we charge $3,000 plus tax for small parcels of less than 10 acres and $8,000 per large parcels. In some difficult cases, we charge at an hourly rate plus materials. Some projects involving multiple tracts have cost upwards of $15,000. If we are brokering the sale of water rights this is not part of the brokerage fee. If additional work is required WaterBank® will notify the client and obtain client permission before proceeding.  The extra work is considered consulting work.  In one notable case an additional $18,000 in land title investigation earned an additional $100,000 in sales proceeds for our client.

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