Protesting ranch’s water application

I am writing to lodge a protest against application RG-89943, which has been resubmitted at the invitation of the State Engineer by Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC, despite having been disallowed several times in the past by various authorities, including the Catron County Seventh Judicial District Court, and the OSE itself.

I am deeply concerned that the State Engineer, whose charge it is to manage water resources for the benefit of the citizens of the state, appears to be facilitating this application by a private corporation to remove and sell a huge amount of water from the ancient aquifer which underlies the San Augustin Plains.

There is little doubt that this world, in short order, begin to dry up private wells belonging to families who have, in some cases for generations, practiced extreme water conservation in order to preserve this precious shared resource.

In the slightly longer term, this action would reduce or eliminate flow into the Gila River system, which would have a devastating effect on one of New Mexico’s most treasured wilderness areas. Additionally, hydrologists have reason to believe that the San Augustin system also provides flow into the Rio Grande River, which supports agricultural communities throughout the Rio Grande valley.

Another critical issue is land subsidence. The water in an aquifer is not like water in a bottle, which occupies the same space whether the bottle is empty or full.

An aquifer, as the State Engineer well knows, is a complex system of streams, pools, and various strata which vary from impermeable (holds water like a bucket) to permeable (more like a sponge).

When water is removed from a permeable stratum, the result is often collapse of that stratum. In other words, portions of the land surface sink.

Without extensive mapping of the aquifer, it is nearly impossible to predict precisely where subsidence might occur.

So one day, your house, or maybe one of the VLA antennae, might simple disappear into a hole in the


A significant potential side-effect of subsidence is water pollution. Imagine putting your fist down in the middle of a layer cake.

All the layers get pretty mixed up. Now imagine subsidence occurring under a water treatment plant. Maybe you’d rather not.

Given the already critical shortage of water in New Mexico, it would be hard to imagine a single action that would have a more deleterious impact on the public welfare than the state’s approval of this application.

Water, unlike some other natural resources like timber or minerals, is by its very nature a shared resource. In New Mexico, this is affirmed by the principle of “beneficial use”, which means “take what you need but no more.”

This intended to prevent one individual’s taking more than his share, just because he can.

If the Augustin Plains Ranch application is approved, I fear it will set a horrifying precedent, namely that anywhere you can stick your straw in, you may take out as much water as you want.

This is not only counter to “beneficial use”, it could reduce the population of our state to corporations.

Private profit is not need, but greed, and is about as antithetical to public welfare as one can get.

For the record, our well, RG-62834, sits on the west slope of the Magdalena Mountains and is likely one of the first that would dry up if Augustin Plains Ranch has its way.

However, it is not our own well that is my primary concern. For many years, New Mexico has resisted the sellout of the west for profit. We recognize that we have a unique way of life in this state that confers intangible benefits on us all. I would hate to see that change.


Emily Johnson

Soules will listen with respect

Dear Scott Turner:

It feels good to sit down to write about a political subject with something positive to say. If you want to be just standing around chatting at a Gun Show, our Congressman Steve Pearce is all right. Unfortunately, he nearly always manages to vote wrong.

Happily, his challenger, Merrie Lee Soules, has an unusually strong business and public service background. She says she will listen to us citizens and, even when we don’t agree, we’ll be heard with interest and respect.

I can tell you that’s true. When we met earlier this summer, we Berniecrats pushed her pretty hard. She stayed positive and pragmatic as well as genuinely progressive on most issues.

As just the two of us walked back to her tour bus, I quizzed her on really feeling that she wanted to tackle this job. Her responses did her credit. I especially appreciate her focus on getting high speed broadband, internet and cell service provided throughout our state.

My own deep devotion to our New Mexico wildlife and wildlands finds a champion in Merrie Lee. She strongly supports keeping our Public Lands securely public. She respects our responsibility toward endangered species in scientifically based management programs.

It will lift your spirits to learn about her successful intervention in a rate case with El Paso Electric that saved New Mexicans over $7.4 million a year. You can read the whole story Maybe you could recount this for your readers in El Defensor Chieftain?

I just realized, I hadn’t thanked you for the thorough articles you did about this time last month on this Congressional contest. I’m doing that now!


Skeeter Leard

San Antonio, NM 87832

Soules is candidate with promise

Dear Mr. Turner:

I’m writing to say that in an election campaign that generally lacks inspiration; we have a candidate with promise, Merrie Lee Soules, who is

running for US House of Representatives against incumbent Steve Pearce.

Before entering politics she had formidable experience in the business world.

I believe that experience gives her an understanding of the complicated workings of politics, but she is also committed to listening to private individuals.

This year she visited every town and city in our part of New Mexico. I think she made 80 personal visits to ask what issues were important to


When she visited our small town of Datil she said she would support us in the huge challenge we face protecting our water from foreign business interests who want to remove it and sell it to the highest bidder.

Just as Merrie Lee wants to help us in Datil to protect our water, she has committed to protecting all of our natural resources including our beautiful wild lands, and from the very beginning of her campaign she’s said that New Mexico can be a model for affordable, renewable energy.

We have abundant sunshine for solar energy, winds for wind power, and the scientific and technological expertise to make it happen.

I think Merrie Lee Soules will be a good representative for us in Congress and I’m going to vote for her.


Cheryl Hastings

Datil, NM

Constitution allows ‘slavery’ in prison?

In the October 1, 2016 edition of the Albuquerque Journal, Amy Goodman wrote an article about prisoner strikes. In the article, she quoted a “Kinetic Justice” making a remark about the prison system being “a continuation of the slavery system.”

In some ways, this is true.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlaws slavery – “except as a punishment for crime where the party shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Thus the U.S. Constitution specificly [sic] allows “involuntary servitude” or “slavery” as a punishment for a crime.

This means, simply, that their “strikes” are not legally

or Constitutionally, defenseable


Roland B. Broach


Open letter to Rep. Tripp

This is an open letter to our representative Don Tripp

Mr. Tripp, When you publicly endorsed Mr. Trump, I sent you an email questioning your decision.

You never responded.

Do you still support Mr. Trump?

Margaret DiBella

San Antonio