The Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District and the Carlsbad Irrigation District will meet with other agencies Wednesday at the state Capitol in an effort to find a way to fulfill the CID’s need for water without resulting in a priority call.
In 2003, the PVACD entered into a settlement with the CID, the State of New Mexico, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to ensure that the state met its water delivery obligations to Texas and to provide water to the CID in times of shortage.
As part of the settlement, CID Board President Charles Jurva said the district, which has senior water rights, is to receive 3.697 acre-feet of water per acre per year for land irrigation. However, due to a two-year drought, the district received 1.4 acre-feet in 2011, he said, and .9 acre-feet in 2012.
This year is looking even worse, Jurva said, and he estimates the district may see .5 acre-feet.
“There’s just no water in the river and the reservoir,” he said. “We’re in trouble down here.”
Yet, while the CID has not been given amounts near what it’s been guaranteed, Jurva said upstream water users with junior rights have been getting most or all of their allotment.
While he does not want upriver producers to suffer the way farmers in his area are, he said there needs to be adjustments made to ensure CID receives enough water.
A priority call could mean shutting down wells in the PVACD with junior rights in an effort to get water to flow into CID’s dams, which could take years.
The act would have a devastating impact on the PVACD, which stands to lose more than 110,000 acres of irrigated farmland that provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually, said PVACD Secretary/Treasurer Dick Smith.
“This could be the biggest bad thing that ever happened to us,” he said.
The PVACD has expressed opposition to a priority call and Jurva also said it’s not what his organization wants.
“We need help and we hope the other parties will come to our aid,” Jurva said.
Smith said the only way to avert a priority call is through a reasonable settlement, but admitted he was not optimistic.
“I don’t think that’s possible because you can’t make water,” he said. “I think the train is coming on the track and I don’t know how we’re going to stop it.”