A parciante comments on the Abeyta water rights settlement

Posted 11/14/19

I am a resident of Arroyo Hondo and have been a parciante for many years on the Acequia de Atalaya. I am deeply concerned about the impacts of future development on Taos Valley, especially the acequias.

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A parciante comments on the Abeyta water rights settlement

Posted

I am a resident of Arroyo Hondo and have been a parciante for many years on the Acequia de Atalaya. I am deeply concerned about the impacts of future development on Taos Valley, especially the acequias. The Abeyta Settlement acknowledges that the hydrologists are well aware that the proposed mitigation wells will draw down the streams, natural springs and subsurface water. The mitigation wells are planned to mitigate the drawdown from the mitigation wells? I've got a better idea.

Last winter in Taos we enjoyed the most abundant precipitation we have had in a long time - 219 inches. It followed, back-to-back, a dry winter/spring season in 2017, of 78 inches. We are not out of this long-term drought because of one good winter/summer season.

Historic markers at Wolf Creek Pass at the headwaters of the Río Grande say that 40 years ago they usually had up to 30 feet of snow every winter. Last year they had 19 feet. The previous season they had only 8 feet. Reservoirs at the headwaters of South Fork are almost completely exhausted. We find ourselves living in uncertain times, in the midst of climate change when global temperatures are soaring around the globe and wildfires burn out of control. This is no time to plan for massive development in Taos, watered by mitigation wells in Taos that could draw down water from private wells, springs and rivers.

We cannot afford to jeopardize our water table or drain shallow aquifers that would normally be replenished by irrigation. We need to sustain our complex aquatic ecosystems, our lush wetlands and hundreds of species of plants, insects and animals that depend on them.

If we were to accept these mitigation wells, many of our domestic water associations, already financially strapped, would go bankrupt. The vast majority of residents in Arroyo Hondo have voted against these mitigation wells and are not willing to allow developers to take over and pay for the maintenance of them, knowing that the water would be used for large-scale development in the Taos Valley.

To my knowledge there has not been any environmental impact study done on this proposed "Mutual Benefits Project" that plans to bless us with mitigation wells that would affect everyone in the valley. Why not? For a project this size and scope, we deserve a full EIS. The decisions we make today we are making for future generations. Let's get it right!

Phaedra Greenwood lives in Arroyo Hondo.

Editor's note: Find out more about the Abeyta Settlement and past reports online at taosnews.com. Click on Abeyta Settlement in upper left corner of the home page.

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