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In Search of the State Engineer’s Motivation

Over at the Political State Report, I received the following comment from a reader:

I understand if property rights are the alpha and omega of this issue as far as you’re concerned, but it might help your readers to have presented the State Engineer’s motivation for seeking to cap the use of private wells. Nowhere do you describe the state of water scarcity in New Mexico that might have led them to take this (otherwise inexplicable) decision.

Posted by Brittain33 at January 20, 2005 10:10 AM

Since I aim to please, I started searching for the State Engineer’s motivation. I am sorry to report that I wasn’t able to find anything that justified this unconstitutional proposal. However, I did find this information posted on a downloadable PDF at the State Engineer’s website demonstrating just how “inexplicable” this legislation is.

The domestic category use of water use, expressed as a percent of the state total in New Mexico in 2000, hovers around one percent. Look at the numbers for yourself:

Commercial (self-supplied)

0.6% of Total Withdrawal

0.79% of Total Depletion

Domestic (self-supplied)

0.83% of Total Withdrawal

1.35% of Total Depletion

Industrial (self-supplied)

0.28% of Total Withdrawal

0.3% of Total Depletion

Irrigated Agriculture

76.14% of Total Withdrawal

68.28% of Total Depletion

Livestock (self-supplied)

1.03% of Total Withdrawal

1.68% of Total Depletion

Mining (self-supplied)

1.6% of Total Withdrawal

1.84% of Total Depletion

Power (self-supplied)

1.49% of Total Withdrawal

2.18% of Total Depletion

Public Water Supply

7.84% of Total Withdrawal

6.96% of Total Depletion

Reservoir Evaporation

10.19% of Total Withdrawal

16.62% of Total Depletion

State Totals

100% of Total Withdrawal

100% of Total Depletion

This data makes the State Engineer’s proposal not only “inexplicable,” it proves it unconscionable. His proposal has nothing to do with dealing with the “state of water scarcity” in New Mexico and everything to do with a government power grab.