PVACD reaffirms opposition of priority call on Pecos River

April 11, 2013 • Local News

During its monthly meeting Thursday, the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District’s Board of Directors reaffirmed its opposition to the Carlsbad Irrigation District’s demand for a priority call on the Pecos River.

PVACD Chairman Bill Netherlin read a statement approved by the board that says if the CID’s effort were successful, the PVACD area “would suffer historic and crippling economic, cultural and social injury which would take decades to repair.”

“At risk is over 110,000 thousand acres of irrigated farmland along with municipal and industrial water supplies,” the statement says. “Agriculture, oil and gas, manufacturing, large and small businesses and municipalities contribute approximately one billion dollars annually to the area economy.

“The economic impact of a priority call [auth] will devastate the entire Pecos Valley, and will not selectively ignore any user of water.”

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.

The statement says that the state’s drought has reduced the flow of the Pecos River and caused the Roswell Basin aquifer to decline to 1970 levels.

Despite the drought and its effects, the statement says PVACD has worked with the CID and the Interstate Stream Commission to provide water for irrigation and for Pecos River Compact compliance.

”The demands for priority administration will not provide water to the CID,” the statement says. “Only precipitation will solve the demands for water by all the residents of New Mexico.

“PVACD will not succumb to the futile call by the CID, and it will vigorously contest the priority call while continuing its stated mission of conserving the water of the Pecos Valley.”

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners also is involved in the effort, with Commissioner James Duffey acting as a liaison. He said it could be “years down the road before anything really happens.”

PVACD Board Member Dwight Menefee said how the call is addressed is up to State Engineer Scott Verhines.

In a recent statement, Verhines said “the drought has placed tremendous pressure on the entire state of New Mexico, especially on those who depend upon surface water.

“Now that CID has made the priority call, our team will work through the layers of legal and hydrologic complexity.”

The office anticipates performing “possible concurrent activities,” which includes preparing a list of senior to junior water rights within the Pecos Basin, finalizing basin specific rules for Active Water Resource Management, facilitating discussion among all parties involved in the settlement, and preparing an implementation plan.

“Our team will address internal resource management needs to determine what can be limited or placed on hold in order to provide adequate resources to respond to the CID priority call,” Verhines said.

Under the settlement, CID’s call can only yield 50,000 acre-feet of water.

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