Animas Underground Basin Adjudication
Overview of Adjudication Process
In the Animas Underground Basin Water Rights Adjudication (AUB), the Court will determine the water rights within the basin, including the individual elements of each water right. In order to determine the water rights, the Court will conduct three different types of proceedings:
- Proceedings to resolve basin issues;
- Proceedings to resolve water rights claims based on New Mexico law; and
- Proceedings to resolve water rights claims of the United States.
If you own, or claim you own, a water right in the Animas Basin, you have a right to participate in these proceedings provided you file the necessary documents with the Court and attend all MANDATORY COURT HEARINGS.
- Proceedings to Resolve Basin Wide Issues
In the AUB, the Court has determined the consumptive irrigation requirements and the farm delivery requirements of all irrigation water rights in the basin. Specifically, the Court has determined that the consumptive irrigation requirement for all crops is 2.1 acre feet per acre per year and that the farm delivery requirement for all irrigation rights is 3.0 acre feet per acre per year, unless a permit or license issued by the State Engineer specifically provides otherwise. Order Making Final Determination of Basin-Wide Irrigation Water Requirements, filed July 24, 2013.
In the AUB, the Court provided water rights claimants with an opportunity to file motions requesting that other basin wide issues, in addition to the consumptive irrigation requirements and farm delivery requirements of irrigation water rights, be resolved in basin proceedings. Case Management Order Mandating Basin-Wide Issue Proceeding and Expedited Inter Se Proceedings and Prescribing Procedure for Giving Notice of All Such Proceedings, filed August 9, 2012. No such motions were filed and the Court is now adjudicating the water rights of each claimant in expeditedinter se proceedings, as described below.
- Proceedings to Resolve Water Rights Claims Based on New Mexico Law
The Court will resolve each water right claim arising under state law in a proceeding known as an expedited inter seproceeding. In an expedited inter se proceeding, the Court resolves all disputes between the claimant and the Office of the State Engineer and all disputes between the claimant and other claimants at the same time in a single proceeding.
In the AUB, all water rights will be resolved in expedited inter se proceedings. The Procedural Order Governing Expedited Inter Se Adjudication of State Law Water Rights, filed 4-22-14; prescribes the procedure to be followed when adjudicating water rights. Briefly summarized, the order requires that:
- The State of New Mexico (the “State”) mails to each claimant in the Animas Basin by certified mail a packet of documents. One of the documents in the packet is a proposed subfile judgment (a “Proposed Judgment”) describing the claimant’s water rights as determined in a hydrographic survey of the Animas Underground Basin conducted by the State. If the claimant agrees with the description of the water rights, the claimant should sign the Proposed Judgment and return it to the State. If the claimant disagrees with or has questions about the Proposed Judgment, the claimant should sign another document in the packet entitled “Response/objection and Request for Consultation-licensed water right” or “Response/objection and Request for Consultation-unlicensed water right” and return it to the State.
- If the claimant signs and returns the Proposed Judgment to the State, the State will sign it and request that the Court enter the Proposed Judgment (a Proposed Judgment, once signed by the claimant and the State, is known as a “Proposed Subfile Judgment”). If, instead of signing the Proposed Judgment, the claimant signs and returns a “Response/objection and Request for Consultation-licensed water right” or “Response/objection and Request for Consultation-unlicensed water right“, the State will contact the claimant to schedule a meeting to discuss the Proposed Subfile Judgment. If the State and the claimant reach agreement during these discussions about the nature and extent of the claimant’s water rights, the claimant and the State will, as appropriate, sign the Proposed Judgment or a revised judgment. The State will then deliver the Proposed Subfile Judgment to the Court and request that the Court enter the Proposed Subfile Judgment.
- If the State and a claimant are unable to reach an agreement during their meeting about the nature and extent of the claimant’s water rights, the State will request that the Court resolve the parties’ dispute over the claimant’s water right. The State will do so by filing with the Court and serving on the claimant a document entitled “Notice Terminating Water Rights Consultation (Exhibit G)“. Within twenty (20) days after being served with this notice, the claimant must file with the Court, and mail to the State, a document entitled “Rejection of Proposed Subfile Final Judgment (Exhibit H)“. Claimants who fail to file the Rejection of Proposed Subfile Judgment notice within the required time may be adjudicated the water right described in the Proposed Subfile Judgment originally included in their adjudication packet.
- Any water right claimant in the basin may object to the water right of another claimant, provided the objection is filed within the time specified by the Court. Claimants will be notified of the deadline for objecting to another claimant’s water right by means of the Monthly Adjudication Report (also located to the left). Specifically, before acting on the State’s request that it enter a Proposed Subfile Judgment and before scheduling a trial to resolve a dispute over a rejected judgment, the Court will publish in the Monthly Adjudication Report a list of all Proposed Subfile Judgments and rejected judgments delivered to it during the proceeding month. It will also post the Proposed Subfile Judgments and rejected judgments on the AUB website. Any claimant who objects to a Proposed Subfile Judgment or who wants to participate in a proceeding to resolve a rejected judgment must file a document entitled Inter Se Objection to Proposed Subfile Judgment with the Court by the deadline stated in the Monthly Adjudication Report. Claimants who do not file the Inter Se Objection to Proposed Subfile Judgment by the required date may be deemed to have waived that claimant’s right to object to the water right of concern.
- Water Rights Claims of the United States
The water rights claims of the federal government will also be resolved in expedited inter se proceedings. The Court will set a deadline for the United States to file its water rights claims and a second deadline for all water rights claimants to file any objections they may have to those claims. Claimants will be notified of deadlines for filing objections by the Monthly Adjudication Report (emailed to claimants who have subscribed) and this Website. The Court will resolve the objections and then adjudicate the federal government’s water rights claims. The procedure to be followed when adjudicating the water rights of the federal government and the deadlines for objecting to those water rights will be specified in a Procedural Order Governing Expedited Inter Se Adjudication of State Law Water Rights. Notice of any request that the Court enter the order will be provided to water right claimants through the Monthly Adjudication Report.