Water rights showdown coming to a head | KOB 4
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Water rights showdown coming to a head

Kassi Nelson
March 15, 2018 07:07 PM

SANDIA PARK, N.M. -- Water is a resource many people take for granted, but it's one people in the East Mountains have spent years fighting for. The fate of that precious resource is now in the hands of a judge.

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"Some people have to haul water out here already just on the other side of [Highway] 14. There, the wells are already dry," Sandia Park resident Michael Giardin said. "There's plenty of wells out here that have dried up."

About five miles north of Giardini's home sits land developers are hoping to turn into a nearly 4,000 home resort community, Campbell Ranch. For it, they want to appropriate more than 110 million gallons of groundwater each year.

"I don't have a problem with somebody putting in a modest thing on their own property," Giardini said. "It's a free country, but to use more water than what's being used out here as a whole already just doesn’t make sense when the wells are declining."

But those plans have been on hold. The state engineer denied the application in 2009 from a water development company called Aquifer Science LLC, stating there wasn't enough water available and granting the application would be "detrimental to the public welfare of the state."

Aquifer Science appealed that decision. It's been before a judge in District Court for the last two weeks. Folks living in the East Mountains have been fighting the company since the beginning. They’ve raised several hundred thousand dollars through the grassroots movement Deep Well Protest.

"The water is, you know, you got a limit," Giardini said. "There's no just turning on the tap here."

The trial is set to wrap up on March 16. It’s a bench trial, meaning the judge could take months to make a decision. KOB reached out to the attorney for Aquifer Science and did not receive a response.

Credits

Kassi Nelson

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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