Thursday, November 5, 2009

Saving a small place in the world for our beloved children

Magdalena Potluck
by Don Wiltshire

It was a joy, seeing all the trick-or-treaters at our door last week. Some were first-timers while others were experienced veterans. Some were even costumed parents enjoying the night as much as their ghoulish brood. Margaret and I have lived in Magdalena now for ten years and remember some of the teens as toddlers: wide-eyed, behind their masks, not knowing quite what to expect.
All Hallow’s Eve always reminds me of just how precious our neighborhood children really are and how quickly they grow into young adults. It makes me wonder what kind of world they will inherit. What problems and/or solutions are we creating now that they will have to live with?
One problem we will be facing very soon is the preservation of access to water in this region. We are the first community in New Mexico to face a water grab of this magnitude.
It started back in October of 2007 when an innocent legal notice appeared in the Mountain Mail, an application with the State Engineer’s Office to drill 37 water wells, 2,500 feet deep and to pump 54,000 acre feet of water a year. This notice raised some eyebrows and 382 individuals and groups filed official protest letters to the NM Office of the State Engineer.
In August of 2008 the application was amended to increase the depth of the wells to 3,000 feet. This opened the window of opportunity to protest again and another 500 letters were filed. In itself, this was a noble effort by our community members. It has taken two years for the State Engineer’s Office to sort out this massive protest and to prepare for a hearing.
Some of the Datil protestors, with the help of Carol and Ray Pittman organized the San Augustin Water Coalition in May of 2008. SAWC will represent many of the protestors at the upcoming hearing. Legal expertise will be provided by Bruce Frederick, attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. SAWC is also dedicated to educating members of the surrounding communities about this very real threat to our survival.
Several of the Magdalena protestors to this obscene water grab, with the help of SAWC, are organizing an informational meeting at the Magdalena Public Library on Tuesday, November 10th at 7:00 PM. Featured speakers will be Bruce Frederick to discuss the legal battle ahead of us and Frank Titus, Hydrologist, to answer questions about the physical realities of this massive pumping operation. Coffee and munchies will be provided. (Sorry; no potluck this time).
Well, this lumbering beast, the San Augustin Ranch LLC and the 900 or so protestors is about to take off. All of the official protestors should have received a Docket Request from the OSE last week. (That’s Legaleeze for “we’re putting the case on the calendar and we’ll get back to you”). The next item of business will be a request for the official protestors to cough up $25 to the OSE to reserve our “spot at the table” (and what a large table it will be)! There is a lot of money and/or Political Muscle behind this water grab so we are looking to raise funds for a Hydrologist to represent us.
This “Water Grab,” should it proceed, would be the death of our little corner of the world. It may not die in our lifetime, but our children and their children would inherit a desolate, parched wasteland. Get involved; learn what you can about our precious ground water, help out in any way you can. Do it for our children.
As always, if you have any Comments? Problems? Solutions? Up coming Events? Contact me at mtn_don@ or (575) 854-3370.

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