May 10, 2017

Long-Fought New Mexico Water Rights Dispute May Determine Fate of Big Residential Project

A hearing in New Mexico’s Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque may finally decide whether a project that could see the construction of some 4,000 homes near the town of Sandia Park will become a reality.

For nearly two decades, the Albuquerque-based Campbell Farming Corporation has been trying to obtain water rights in order to build what would be a 25,000-acre community that would also include a golf course and hotel.

In the fall of 2014, the New Mexico State Engineer rejected a bid by Aquifer Science LLC of Carson City, Nevada, to pump water from the Sandia Underground Water Basin. If given a go-ahead, the water would be used for the Campbell Farming development.

Scott Verhines, the New Mexico State Engineer at the time, determined that there wasn’t enough unappropriated water available for the project.

In response, Aquifer Science, which is partly owned by Campbell Farming, has appealed Verhines’ decision to the District Court.

The project has sparked the opposition of area residents, including a group called the North 14 Deep Well Protest, which is being represented by the nonprofit New Mexico Environmental Law Center.

The case is expected to be heard sometime in August. 


By Garry Boulard

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