By Don Wilshire
The plain and simple truth of the “water grab” issue without all of the legal and political frills goes something like this:
Picture, if you will, the completed army of 37 water wells with 20 inch casings poised on the San Augustin Plains Ranch, ready to start pumping water from a depth of 3,500 feet. The switch is flipped on and in the first hour nearly 2 million gallons of water are sent rushing down a huge pipeline next to Rt. 60 to be dumped into the Rio Grande. This water was under the Ranch and Bruno Modena can do anything he wants to with it. It’s still a free country, even for an Italian businessman.
After the first hour, however, Bruno starts taking water that does not belong to him. After a week’s worth of pumping, Carol and Ray Pittman’s well goes dry. After a month, the residents of Datil must start trucking in their water. After a year, the municipal well for Magdalena dries up.
This water is not his to take. It is also not the State Engineer’s water to give away. It belongs to the residents of Catron and western Socorro Counties. It belongs to the Elk and the Antelope and the Cedars and the Junipers. It belongs to Alamosa Creek and the Gila River. It belongs to the Earth.
To put the matter more bluntly; after the first hour, Mr, Modena stops exercising his right to pump water and starts stealing our water, our livelihoods, our communities and our lives.
Plan on attending the State Engineer’s scheduling conference on Tuesday, November 9 at 1:30 p.m. in the Macey Center on the New Mexico Tech campus. The only things that will be officially decided are when and where the hearing will be held, and who will get to speak and when. It will be good, though, to meet all of the other protestors and supporters. Bruno himself might put in an appearance!
Make no mistake about it; This is not the way to “augment” the State’s water supply. The legal-speak may refer to it as “appropriation” or an “exercising of senior water rights.” It’s still just water stealing to me. This could turn out to be a landmark case in the decision of future “water-grabs.” Don Tripp has warned us that this situation will come up again and again. Get involved in supporting the official water protestors in this case. Without water, our time here will soon come to an end.
Another way you can help save our community is to support the efforts, now underway, to establish permanent, reliable and convenient ways for all of us to recycle most of the stuff that will end up in our overflowing “land fills”. Socorro County is considering applying for a substantial grant, hosted by the New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC). This grant would establish Socorro as a recycling “hub” with drop-off trailers situated in the “boonies” like Magdalena and Datil. Please write or call the Socorro County Manager’s office and encourage them to apply for these grants: Delilah Walsh, Socorro County Manager, 210 Park Street, Socorro, New Mexico, 87801, (575) 835-0589.
To learn more about these grants, visit
At our last “Water” Meeting, Margreet Jenness, our resident nurse practitioner, led us through the symptoms, treatments and prevention of dehydration. The signs of dehydration include dizziness, irritability, headaches, heartburn, concentrated urine, leg cramps, urinary tract infections and water retention. The remedy? Drink more water! From 6 to 8 glasses a day. Your food can account for about 4 of those glasses. So after each meal, enjoy a nice big glass of water while we still have access to it.
We have no speakers scheduled for the next few water meetings. The next scheduled meeting is November 17, when Frank Titus will discuss the hydrology of the San Augustin Plains. Until then, I’ll give you a topic; discuss amongst yourselves.
I have received a thoughtful response from a reader in Pie Town who is simply not convinced that the Twin Towers collapsed due to faulty construction techniques. He points out that the ten seconds of “free fall” collapse shows absolutely no resistance from the steel spine of 47 box columns which were anchored to the bedrock at the bottom of the 7 story basements. More stuff to ponder and wonder about.
Contact Don Wiltshire at email@example.com