Coalition hears from Tripp

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About 60 San Augustin Water Coalition members were in attendance for an annual meeting at the Datil school gym May 11.

The coalition is a nonprofit organization formed several years ago in response to an application by a for-profit corporation to pump 54,000 acre-feet of ground water each year from the Plains of San Agustin basin to the Rio Grande.

New Mexico Rep. Don Tripp was in attendance for the meeting and said the coalition’s efforts were welcomed in Santa Fe during this year’s legislative session.

“The coalition was well received by the Water and Natural Resources Committee,” he told the members.

Two SAWC board members spoke in favor of Tripp’s House Bill 397 before the House Agriculture and Water Subcommittee in February. Tripp said the bill would have required State Engineer’s office oversight of water transfers out of the San Agustin Plain. The bill was approved by the sub-committee, but died in the Judicial Committee. Tripp said he would try again next year.

To the welcome sound of rain on the roof, guest speaker water lawyer A. Blair Dunn reiterated Tripp’s point about the importance of citizen activism.

“Sending the board to Santa Fe was a good idea,” Dunn said. “Be active — hold your representative accountable.”

Dunn said state water users need to be alert to bills introduced in the Legislature favoring water speculation.

Two bills that died in committee this year — changing rules on water leasing and in-stream flows — could have had a negative impact on plains landowners’ water rights, Dunn said.

In other business:

  • The members voted to elect Brian Dees and Dave Darby to the board of directors to replace Don Wiltshire. Wiltshire is expected to ask to step down for family reasons. Dees is the president of the Datil Subdivision, and Darby is president of the Last Frontier Subdivision.
  • Board member Anita Hand reviewed the major events of the past five years.
  • Board secretary Nicole Sanders said Dale Armstrong has granted permission to use two billboards on his Montosa Ranch property along Highway 60 to promote the coalition’s mission.
  • Treasurer Eileen Dodds reported the organization had $3,656 in the general fund, and $2,160.57 in the legal defense fund, totaling $5,816 cash on hand. Year to date fundraising netted $602; donations totaled $400. Expenses came in at $414. Dodds reported Tom Cook had volunteered to help with bookkeeping.

By a show of hands, members voted unanimously to require membership approval for all bylaw changes.

 

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