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Old 03-02-2008, 05:24 PM
TKO
 
Location: Cruces
702 posts, read 1,438,945 times
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No problems. When you look at the breakdown of water consumption in the west, however, you see that municipal use is a small fraction of the total. Flood irrigation is one the top uses of water in the west and it's a wasteful practice. More and more farmers are willing to invest in modernization but they have to be able to sell the excess where the market will take it. That's a no lose proposition the farmer continues to get the water he needs and pile of cash and the cities get what they need. The problem is real when it comes to development. That's exactly what the inability to bank water and sell it is leading to - no other way to get any cash out of the land and the value of it climbs to high to ignore. In addition to the aforementioned waste of water. Check out this chart from the USGS:

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Old 03-02-2008, 05:55 PM
 
7,994 posts, read 15,556,390 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TKO View Post
No problems. When you look at the breakdown of water consumption in the west, however, you see that municipal use is a small fraction of the total. Flood irrigation is one the top uses of water in the west and it's a wasteful practice. More and more farmers are willing to invest in modernization but they have to be able to sell the excess where the market will take it. That's a no lose proposition the farmer continues to get the water he needs and pile of cash and the cities get what they need. The problem is real when it comes to development. That's exactly what the inability to bank water and sell it is leading to - no other way to get any cash out of the land and the value of it climbs to high to ignore. In addition to the aforementioned waste of water. Check out this chart from the USGS:

Flood irrigation can be a blessing or a curse, depending on where it occurs. Flood irrigation on lower altitude croplands in the West is both inefficient and significantly increases salinization in tailwater that returns to streams and rivers. It also may encourage non-native plant species (tamarisk, or saltcedar, as it is commonly known as, for example) to proliferate and choke out less salt-tolerant native species along streamcourses. In higher mountain areas, flood irrigation, or--even better--subirrigation of meadows may actually improve water quality, and also helps maintain critical wetland ecosystems. Unfortunately, it is usually these higher altitude flood irrigated areas that are the targets of municipal water developers--first, because they are capturing water that can flow downhill to them; second, because those rights are frequently senior rights, and third, because headwaters areas generally have the best water quality. I would also be curious to know how the municipal figure is calculated. Does it reflect the total amount of water withdrawn from rivers and storage for municipal use (both consumptive or non-consumptive use), or just the amount of water withdrawn that is actual consumptive use?

Parenthetically, I think a major water fight looming in the Rocky Mountain West is going to be over water quality, as well as quantity. For example, when Denver and other Front Range Colorado cities divert water from many headwaters areas west of the Continental Divide, they get to enjoy both the quantity and the high quality of the water they divert. Meanwhile, a lower basin state like California (or even Mexico) sees not only the diminished quantity of water from the river--the water they actually get is full of dissolved salts, chemicals and other pollutants that are not diluted because cleaner upstream water flows have already been diverted. I think that will be a BIG fight within a few years.
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Old 03-02-2008, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Slightly west of Downtown Boise
314 posts, read 719,006 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Meanwhile, a lower basin state like California (or even Mexico) sees not only the diminished quantity of water from the river--the water they actually get is full of dissolved salts, chemicals and other pollutants that are not diluted because cleaner upstream water flows have already been diverted. I think that will be a BIG fight within a few years.
Hmm...I suggest you pipe down on this...my friend.."Whatever Cali doesn't know, won't hurt her" http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/fart001.gif (broken link)
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Old 03-03-2008, 05:16 AM
 
Location: Londonderry, NH
33,394 posts, read 28,007,444 times
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NM Water – Post 59

AFAIK - The Colorado River does not make it all the way to Mexico and has not for many years. I think that jazzlover is correct in his assertion that water fights are going to just get bigger in the coming decades. When we move to NM we expect to buy an existing house so we will not be adding to the problem. I already dislike cutting grass so we will xeriscape with very durable rocks.

Looking at the graph indicates that more than two thirds of the water is used to irrigate farmland and, I suppose, cool electric power plants by consumptive evaporation. (Incidentally it does not matter where the heat for a steam engine comes from (burning fossil fuel or splitting atoms), the steam must be condensed to close the cycle. Condensing this steam by evaporating water in huge cooling towers is where the water is used. It is converted to water vapor, which eventually forms clouds and precipitation somewhere, just not nearby) There are only a couple of ways to reduce the consumptive use of the water but they are far less efficient than evaporative cooling.

Again referring to the graph indicates that if the water consumption for power plants and irrigation were both cut 20+% there would be enough water for whatever domestic water consumption would be needed to meet the “expected” growth.

Thanks for reading the off the top of my head ramblings of a Yankee that could never understand why anyone was allowed to pollute water under the Eastern Riparian rights water law. My puzzlement with Western Prior appropriation law is just how and who determines “beneficial use”. Which is more beneficial: cooling a power plant, growing alfalfa, or providing drinking and sanitary water to a city?
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Old 03-03-2008, 06:16 AM
TKO
 
Location: Cruces
702 posts, read 1,438,945 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
I would also be curious to know how the municipal figure is calculated. Does it reflect the total amount of water withdrawn from rivers and storage for municipal use (both consumptive or non-consumptive use), or just the amount of water withdrawn that is actual consumptive use?
I'll figure it out and report back. It's gonna take me a little while. Geez I wish I had my old brain that could store these facts away for immediate reference, but mundane life seems to take up a larger and larger percentage of my ever dwindling memory.

I'd also like to mention that this is a very productive discussion. This is indeed the major issue that us westerners are likely to have to face in the future. Education (mine included) is paramount.
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Old 03-03-2008, 08:17 AM
 
385 posts, read 1,055,405 times
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This is highly productive for me as well. It has really answered some questions of mine that I have been too lame (for lack of a better word) to figure out for myself. The irrigation issue is a burr under my saddle to me personally as well.

Here is a hopefully related question. There are plenty of tiny community wells all over NM. As I said, I own parts of two wells. Don't you thinkers out there believe that they just have to get bought up by bigger districts especially in light of the downstream issues.

Here is an example. The City of Ruidoso as I undersand it was sued by users down stream. It had to do with Ruidoso not cleaning "used" water sufficient enough before it returned to the water table hence contaminating users' water downstream. The court found Riodoso liable and is making them build a new santitation plant. Those users like me were assessed a flat $32.00 (about) fee per month to help Ruidoso build this plant. Now, that is twice my water usage bill up there. I chalk a lot of this up to village decision makers who probably weren't expert enough to think some of this through nor would they have had the money to go out and hire those experts for input along the way.

Its all very complex.
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Old 03-03-2008, 08:53 AM
 
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Water rights can affect properties in ways that people don't even think about. I'll give you an example from my home state of Colorado (the water laws there are quite similar to New Mexico).

An out-of-state (Eastern US) couple purchased a home in a subdivision. They got their water from a domestic water district. No surface irrigation rights were conveyed to them. Behind their home, forming their back property line, was a canal that supplied water to numerous agricultural users in the area. On their property, adjacent to the canal, was a line of large cottonwood trees that shaded their home in the hot summer afternoons. They told me that was specifically why they purchased that particular house.

Not knowing any better, the couple purchased a small pump, and placed it the canal, using the water to irrigate their yard (rather than pay the high rates for domestic water to do it). Not surprisingly, the ditch rider came along, threw the pump back in their yard, and informed them they had no legal right to the water in the canal and that if he found them pumping water out of the canal again, they would be prosecuted for trespass. Surprise No. 1.

This all happened in an exceptionally dry year. By mid-summer, junior water right holders on the canal were being cut off--their hayfields withering. Now came the interesting part (surprise No. 2 for the couple). Early one morning, the couple awakened to the sound of chain saws. When they looked out of their window, they were horrified to see a crew from the ditch company cutting down the large cottonwood trees in their yard. They called the sheriff immediately. When the Deputy showed up, they confronted the ditch company crew. The couple learned a new word that morning: "phreatophyte." A phreatophyte is not some sexual deviate, it is a water-loving plant that places its tap root in a plentiful and available water supply (in this case, the cottonwoods). The ditch company representative explained to the couple that the cottonwoods on their property were tapping into the canal's water flow, effectively using water to which the couple had no legal rights, and the trees were depriving water from ("injuring") lawful holders of water rights on the canal. The trees were cut down.

The couple sued the water district. Their suit was dismissed, the judge holding that the ditch company had every right under the water law to do what they did. The couple also sued the realtor (a recent transplant herself with no understanding of western water law), claiming that the realtor had failed to disclose to them that the trees that were their major attraction to that particular property could be removed by the ditch company. I never did hear how that came out. By the way, the ditch company didn't just cut down the trees on that particular property--they cut them down along several miles of the canal.

Purchasers of property in the arid West, especially those purchasing property in rural and semi-rural areas, had better understand what their water rights are (and aren't). Otherwise, they may get a very unpleasant surprise down the road. Also, my personal experience has been that about 2/3's of the real estate people (especially the "grunt" salespersons and agents) don't know **** from shinola about water rights themselves, so they can't properly inform a buyer about it. Caveat emptor.
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Old 03-03-2008, 11:59 AM
 
950 posts, read 2,101,501 times
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Default Delayed costs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KimK View Post

Here is an example. The City of Ruidoso as I undersand it was sued by users down stream. It had to do with Ruidoso not cleaning "used" water sufficient enough before it returned to the water table hence contaminating users' water downstream. The court found Riodoso liable and is making them build a new santitation plant. Those users like me were assessed a flat $32.00 (about) fee per month to help Ruidoso build this plant. Now, that is twice my water usage bill up there. I chalk a lot of this up to village decision makers who probably weren't expert enough to think some of this through nor would they have had the money to go out and hire those experts for input along the way.

Its all very complex.
One of things that you see in a lot of rapidly growing communities in the US (not just New Mexico) is that the developers have a lot of money, make big contributions to the decision-makers and get approval of projects without adequate discussion of the long run costs -- in a variety of areas. These often come home to roost later -- the need for more roads, schools, drinking water, sewer, control of erosion and runoff -- it's a long list.

Of course, it is not just the developers who are making money -- it is another long list including a lot of just ordinary people.

I don't like being cynical, but I think I am being realistic. In some ways, you might be lucky that the cost is only $32.00 a month. I THINK I remember reading about an area in Rio Rancho where residents were hit with $15,000 fees for controlling runoff? Does anybody remember this? Am I wrong?

I was worried here that we might have to pay our share to extend water and sewer lines. But looks like we can keep our well and septic . On this issue, we have the support of Tesuque.
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Old 03-03-2008, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Alto/Ruidoso
1,111 posts, read 1,400,791 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregW View Post
Condensing this steam by evaporating water in huge cooling towers is where the water is used. It is converted to water vapor, which eventually forms clouds and precipitation somewhere, just not nearby) There are only a couple of ways to reduce the consumptive use of the water but they are far less efficient than evaporative cooling.
Thanks... I was wondering what "thermoelectric" meant since that term was applied to something very different in my experience.

It always surprises me when people talk about an increasing population using up all the water. It's mostly agriculture... and I guess powerplants, which I didn't realize. I guess both of these are connected to the population, but not necessarily the local population... ie we don't rely on NM agriculture to provide our food, nor NM powerplants to supply our power.

And there are always alternatives... just like running out of gas... there are other and cleaner forms of energy possible. And if the water really does get scarse, we will have an incentive to make better use of the water we have.
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Old 03-03-2008, 03:07 PM
 
Location: San Juan County, New Mexico
262 posts, read 592,287 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post

Also, my personal experience has been that about 2/3's of the real estate people (especially the "grunt" salespersons and agents) don't know **** from shinola about water rights themselves, so they can't properly inform a buyer about it. Caveat emptor.
I'm a real estate person. Any agent who tries to explain to a buyer what they're getting as far as water, oil, gas, coal, etc. is asking for trouble. I've had documents in hand from the state engineer that absolutely confirmed that the particular parcel of land included adjudicated water rights but I didn't dare suggest to the buyer that they were guaranteed a single drop. That's what attorneys are paid to determine. Asking a realtor about water rights is like asking the receptionist in the dentist's office to perform your root canal surgery.
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