New Mexico land commissioner cites fresh water crisis

Rio Grande, restoration

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn says parts of eastern New Mexico are in crisis mode as the depletion of the Ogallala aquifer continues.

Dunn says the depletion and the lack of alternatives for fresh water is helping devalue state trust land in the region.

Starting July 1, the Land Office will review hydrological information before renewing or approving new land access to drill water wells on trust land that involve the use of fresh water from the Ogallala aquifer for oil and gas production and related activities.

Dunn says non-fresh sources are available that can be used for production.

Dunn says under the new policy, individuals aren’t prohibited from applying for an easement that might involve the use of fresh water for oil and gas production, although additional documentation and hydrologic information are now required with all applications.