Water reclamation, transport project would provide large, sustainable source of water
The Augustin Plains Ranch LLC (APR) has submitted its application for a permit  to pump, reclaim and then transport 54,000 acre-ft of water per year (AFY) from its location near Datil, N.M., to those Rio Grande River communities that are most in need. The application was filed with the Office of the State Engineer (OSE), and APR is making it immediately available to all interested stakeholders on its website.
“After many months of work we are pleased to present the OSE with an application that provides information which we believe will allow the project to move forward,” said Michel Jichlinski, project director. “We have also held numerous meetings to present our proposal to regulators, legislators, members of the press and to the local community. This is a very big step in developing a new and sustainable source of water for New Mexicans for generations to come.”
The state engineer is expected to decide within the coming weeks if APR can proceed to an official hearing phase. The hearing phase could last up to two years and would allow APR the ability to complete a full and comprehensive study of the area’s hydrology, potential impacts to local communities, pipeline right-of-way issues, legal and compact challenges, and more.
“The full and open hearing process will enable New Mexicans to be certain that the project is viable, sustainable and in the state’s best interest,” Jichlinski said. “The research that will be conducted during the hearing phase will be invaluable in providing data on this resource that is currently sorely lacking. We look forward to having this conversation with all who are interested and wish to fully understand the incredible potential of the San Augustin Basin.”
Water managers and policy makers from local water districts to Washington, D.C., are aggressively seeking solutions to both near- and long-term supply challenges in New Mexico. U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich recently introduced legislation that, among other things, calls for an increase in water acquisition programs. In particular, they are requesting emergency funding for projects that will allow the state to acquire “water from willing sellers to enhance stream flow for the benefit of fish and wildlife (including endangered species), water quality, river ecosystem restoration and other beneficial purposes.”
“We believe APR water can go a long way in solving some of the state’s most pressing challenges for both now and in the future,” Jichlinski said. “All of our elected officials are pressing for answers and we believe APR is one of the state’s best options.”