Wednesday, the Office of the State Engineer formally received the Carlsbad Irrigation District’s demand for a priority call on the Pecos River.
Since the district’s decision to pursue a priority call locally, some have expressed skepticism regarding how the district measures its water.
CID manager Dudley Jones explained Thursday it is a surface water district and diverts water from the Pecos River into a main irrigation canal.
That water is then delivered to a farmer’s lateral by diversion, and a chart is used to measure how much water is flowing and for how long, to ensure that they receive only the allotted amount.
In 2011, surface water and water from augmentation wells yielded the district 1.4 acre-feet of water per acre of land. In 2012, the district received .9 acre-feet and has received .3 acre-feet per acre this year to ration among users.
Unlike groundwater districts, the measurements are done manually, Jones said, as cubic feet per second. The CID also assigns every farmer a serial number, which is tracked daily by water master to see how much water is used.
“In our system, we know where the water is going so that no one gets more water than they’re entitled to,” Jones said.
According to the Office of the State Engineer, water masters administer the distribution of water from stream systems and work to ensure that water is distributed fairly.
Augmentation wells also are metered by the state, Jones said, just as they are in the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District.
The district also is obligated by state and federal agencies to account for water, he said, and “can’t do anything with water other than store it and release it.”
Information about lake levels is available on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website.
“It’s all very transparent,” he said.
A spokesman for the Office of the State Engineer said 100 percent of the CID is metered and water masters read the meters quarterly. Water rights owners of the CID must also submit meter readings to the office.
There are rumors among downstream users about upstream users, Jones said, such as those accusing them of “pumping all the time.” However, Jones said he and others know that is “not entirely accurate.”
“We don’t have an issue with the PVACD,” he said. “Our issue is with the Interstate Stream Commission and the state engineer and their inability to deliver water.”
PVACD Superintendent Aron Balok said while he is aware of rumors, the CID measures its surface water quite well. If a legal battle should ensue due to an issue caused by the priority call, he said the CID’s ability to verify how much supplemental wells are pumping and how the process is overseen would play a big part.
“I wouldn’t expect any surprises,” he said.