The Carlsbad Irrigation District’s Board of Directors will meet April 2, to discuss possible solutions to its lack of water, after legislation that would have provided $2.5 million toward its efforts failed to pass the state Legislature.
Senate Bill 462, sponsored by Sens. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, and Cathrynn Brown, R-Santa Fe, would have allocated money from the state’s general fund for the Interstate Stream Commission in an effort to mitigate effects of drought in the Lower Pecos River Basin. The bill passed the Senate Conservation Committee, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
CID President Charles Jurva said his district had hopes for the bill sponsored by Leavell and Brown, but since it failed to advance “we’ve got to do something.”
“At this point, I think there’s a bunch of farmers and board members thinking that we need to ask for a priority call,” he said. “Personally, I’m rather reluctant.”
Since January, the CID and the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District have met several times with other state and government agencies to determine how to fulfill the CID’s needs without resulting in a priority call. If granted, the call could mean shutting down wells with junior rights north of the district, including those in the PVACD, in an effort to get water to flow into CID’s dams, which could take years.
“We really don’t want to impair other users,” Jurva said. “We just feel that we have senior water rights and should be getting some of the flow. We feel like we’re getting the short end of the stick and we have to assert ourselves.”
The district doesn’t want to start a “water war,” he said and is “realistic enough to know that nothing that we do is going to get us immediate water this year.”
Farmers of the CID are also worried about the call, Jurva said, because there is a possibility it could shut down some of their supplemental wells.
“Many of us are afraid of what the unintended consequences could be,” he said. “But our farmers are really suffering.”
PVACD Secretary/Treasurer Dick Smith said everyone is suffering due to drought and would suffer even more if a priority call is issued.
Under a 2003 agreement, the PVACD must provide water to CID and Texas, but there hasn’t been enough water to do that, Smith said.
The issue of water rights is complicated and has far-reaching implications, he said and the matter could end up in court. As far as he could remember, he said there has not before been a priority call in the area.
“Nobody knows how it’s going to work out,” he said. “They may come up with a solution, but I’m just not sure what it is right now and I won’t know anything until April 2.”
While the CID is looking at different options, he said it’s up to the board. At least two members are for the call. Jurva is not a member of the board and can only vote in the instance of a tie.
“We’re going to have to wait and see,” he said.