Much of this information is provided by the Office of the State Engineer of New Mexico - we invite you to go to their website http://www.ose.state.nm.us
Water in New Mexico is distributed among a variety of users, as the pie chart indicates. About 6 percent goes to livestock, commercial, industrial, mining, and power companies; About 10 percent goes to public supplies and domestic use; About 7 percent is lost to evaporation; and about 77 percent goes to irrigated agriculture.
Is drought abnormal for New Mexico?
A: Drought is a regular event in New Mexico. It visits the state in recurring cycles.
A major drought occurred in the 1950s, again in the 1970s, and most recently, in the latter part of the 1990s. If you look at a 2,000-year snapshot of rainfall and snowpack in New Mexico, drought is more the norm for this area than it is an anomaly. This is confirmed by tree-ring data, which indicates drought is a normal part of the cycle and that we may be headed for another extended drought period. During the 1980s, when New Mexicans enjoyed abnormally wet years, is when our state experienced tremendous growth in population.
Commercial Water Rights (Acequia Rights)
Many properties in Traditional Communities have water rights on an Acequia that allows for the irrigation of orchards, pastures and gardens. Although the amounts vary slightly, usually an acre of land in entitled to irrigate 1 acre of land with 3 feet of water each year. Acequias always have an organization that operates the acequia and a "ditch boss" or Mayordomo. The Mayordomo generally handles the allocation of water and when you can irrigate your land. Often there will be a weekly schedule that tells you the time you can start and when you must stop watering your land. In some areas the Mayordomo simply telephones you and tells you when you can have the water. There is a rich and long tradition associated with every acequia and knowing how it works, if you acquire one of these properties, is paramount. If you try to break the traditions associated with your acequia - you could find yourself in a lot of trouble with your neighbors!
Domestic Well Information:
Single household: The maximum permitted diversion of water from a 72-12-1.1 domestic well permitted to serve one household shall be 1.0 acre-foot per annum, except in hydrologic units where applicant can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the state engineer that the combined diversion from domestic wells will not impair existing water rights, then the maximum permitted diversion of water from a 72-12-1.1 domestic well permitted to serve one household shall be 3.0 acre-foot per annum.
Metering requirements: When a metering device is required by the state engineer on a 72-12-1.1 domestic well, the totalizing meter shall be installed before the first branch of the discharge line from the well. The meter installation shall be in accordance with the specifications adopted by the state engineer. The holder of the 72- 12-1.1 domestic well permit shall file a meter installation and inspection report with the office of the state engineer, documenting the make, model, serial number, date of installation, and initial reading of the meter prior to diversion of water. Pumping records for the 3 proceeding calendar months shall be submitted to the appropriate state engineer district office on or before the 10th of January, April, July, and October of each year unless a different reporting period has been established in the conditions of approval of the permit.
(1) The state engineer shall require a meter on each new 72-12-1.1 domestic well permitted:
(a) within a domestic well management area;
(b) when a metering requirement is imposed by the courts;
(c) for drinking and sanitary domestic use that is incidental to the operations of a governmental, commercial, or non-profit facility;
(d) for multiple households domestic use;
(e) as a supplemental 72-12-1.1 well; the 72-12-1.1 domestic well being supplemented shall also require a meter; and
(f) as a multiple use well such that the diversion of water for domestic use is separately metered.
(2) The state engineer may require a meter on a new 72-12-1.1 domestic well:
(a) permitted for single household domestic use;
(b) permitted to accompany a residence or other dwelling constructed for sale;
(c) as a condition of a permit to repair or deepen a 72-12-1.1 domestic well;
(d) as a condition of a permit to amend the type of domestic use of a 72-12-1.1 domestic well permit; or
(e) as a condition of a permit to transfer a valid, existing water right to a 72-12-1.1 domestic well permit in accordance with subsection E of 126.96.36.199 NMAC.
Well setbacks: All new 72-12-1.1 domestic wells shall be set back a minimum of 50 feet from an existing well of other ownership unless a variance has been granted by the state engineer. The state engineer may grant a variance for a replacement well or to allow for maximum spacing of the well from a source of groundwater contamination. All 72-12-1.1 domestic wells shall be set back from potential sources of contamination in accordance with the rules and regulations of the New Mexico environment department.