Letters to the Editor (01/19/2013)

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Investors leave blanks in plains water plans
Editor:
People should beware of becoming complacent about the future of the water grab by Italian investors out on the Plains of San Agustin. The blanks not filled in — such as what the water is actually going to be used for — were not left blank because these “investors” and their lawyers have pasta between their ears. The blanks were left blank on purpose.
On its face it should have been thrown out by the water engineer’s office, rather than given a hearing, a process which cost both sides a lot of time and money. The Italians have lots of both, the people against this obscenity do not. Logic tells me it was a trial balloon, so the investors could gauge what the opposition was going to be like.
There’s a lot more to come, a lot more …
It’s time for people to get with it, and STAND UP against this immoral, unethical crime against the citizens of New Mexico, and the folks directly impacted in Catron County in particular. Call or write Susana Martizez’s office. There is a “Contact the Governor” page under “Contacts” on Gov. Martinez’s website — www.governor.state.nm.us/ — or just Google to save time and you’ll get there quickly. Susana Martinez is a good place to start. Water belongs to the citizens of New Mexico, and is a resource to be administered carefully for the benefit of New Mexicans. It is not to be administered to the benefit of foreign “investors” so they can make a killing, literally billions of dollars, over a span of many generations.
Come to the benefit for the San Agustin Water Coalition to be held at The Golden Spur Saloon in Magdalena on Feb. 2, from 8 to 12. There will be more info, a chance to send your message to the governor via a laptop at the event, free munchies, a band (Bartender4Mayor plays) and more for $10 donations, all proceeds going to the Water Coalition. Stand up and dance for a real cause.
Matt Middleton
Magdalena

Keep local resources under local control
Editor:
The Augustin Plains Ranch LLC had their PR team trying to garner support for their effort to appropriate 54,000 acre-feet of water a year from the Plains of San Agustin. I think the LLC has yet to prove that there is enough water to support this proposal, yet they are still after the allocation of 54,000 acre-feet of water.
I do not want people to think that there is no groundwater within the basin; there is. The question is what is the best way to manage this resource? Letting some outside individual with no real ownership in the local area control this resource would not be in anybody’s best interest except that of the ranch owners.
The geology of the basin is very complicated. The faulting that occurred during its development has created some unique challenges to developing a good well field. I think the LLC’s proposed well field is not based on the best distribution of the wells, but solely based on land ownership. I know of situations where there are vast differences in the water table levels because of faults that pass between the wells. Of major concern is the reservoir of saline water in the southwest portion of the basin. If over pumping occurs, this salt water can encroach on the fresh water areas, causing degradation to the fresh water.
The distribution of sediments within the basin is haphazard at best. The intertonguing that occurs from silt/clay to sand and gravels creates discontinuous layers that do not yield constant transmissivity of water. The finer sediments in the basin fill are subject to having the pore space between them crushed by over pumping. This would cause the sediment to lose its capacity to hold water; once this capacity is lost it can never be saturated again. Over pumping of an aquifer can cause this differential settlement to occur.
The LLC says it would develop infiltration galleries to recharge the water they would be extracting. This is easy to say but difficult to accomplish. Natural recharge takes hundreds of years if not thousands of years depending on the types of sediments involved. The biggest problem is the very fine silt and clay particles that get washed into the recharge basins that seal off the infiltration process and then you are right back to extensive evapotranspiration.
Remember: Water is life, control the one and you control the other.
Dennis Inman
Quemado