Letter to the Editor: Comments About White Rock Water Wells

Comments About White Rock Water Wells
By Russell T Pack

Water is by far the most valuable resource in the West. I hope that everyone understands that, when the term San Juan-Chama is used, it does not mean that the water in question has ever been in the San Juan or Chama or Rio Grande rivers.

Water trading has a long history. If I have rights to a certain amount of water in the Rio Grande, and you have rights to a certain amount of water, I can take mine higher up, so long as I let your amount of water come down to you. The whole object of the proposed wells is to take our water out just before it gets into the Rio Grande.

If done correctly, the proposed wells will intercept water just above springs that currently just come up and run into the filthy water of the Rio Grande. The intercepted water would be the same beautiful, clean water that we now drink.

To any proposals, such as Buckman project, that would take out water out of the Rio Grande, I say, “Yuck!” That water contains sediment, manure, pesticides, herbicides, drugs, coliform bacteria, and antibiotics fed to cattle. Yes, with enough effort, most of those things can be cleaned out of it, but you never know when something new will come down the river. And the resulting water will taste of disinfectant. I may be a bit over sensitive on this because my uncle died of typhoid fever contracted from drinking the water of the Bear River in Idaho, but if you are not forced to use water out of the river, don’t!

Do we want to adopt any proposal that increases the rate at which we use water out of our aquifer? Heavens, no! We want to conserve that water for when we really need it!

Will we need the SJC water? Right now, we are only slowly pulling down the water level in our aquifer. However, we should look at what our children and grandchildren will face. As everyone should know, the climate of all the Mountain West is has been getting steadily drier for the past thousand years. That will continue. Water tables will continue to drop, more springs will dry up, more wells will run dry, the line where Ponderosa pines can live will continue to move uphill as it has this year, etc. Rainfall will be unable to recharge our aquifer, and its water levels will decline. We will need the SJC water to slow this decline. We now have the chance of a lifetime to take our SJC water right above springs in White Rock canyon that now just run into the Rio Grande. We should jump at the chance, get it, use it, and lock in our claims to it before the chance goes away!

The location of the wells should be determined not by my personal preference or your personal preference but by where the best chances are to intercept the spring water.  I don’t care if that is on park land, county land, DOE land, or private land that the county buys. Getting the desired flow of water should dominate all considerations!

Actually, the environmental impact will be minimal. There will be some noise from the drilling for a few weeks, but when all is said and done, all there will be is a small building tucked away in the juniper and pinon trees at each well site. There are already many such buildings in the county. Do you even notice them?

If things are done properly, so that the water table under White Rock is not pulled down, ground subsidence should not be a problem.

To those who say that water rights such as we have in the in SJC project have never been taken away from anyone, I would say that that is what my grandfathers up in Idaho said about their rights to the water of the Bear River. However, as all of you who read my earlier letter to the Los Alamos Daily Post (June 27, 2013) know, my grandfathers were wrong, and it took 82 years to get their water back! If I were an attorney representing any of the many entities that want the Rio Grande water, I would take the ambivalence and opposition to these wells as evidence that LA neither needs nor wants the SJC water and have LA county in court so fast it would make your head swim!

I have read the white paper written by those opposed to the wells, and, with all due respect to my friends and neighbors who authored that paper, as far as I can tell, it consists almost totally of NIMBY arguments. (NIMBY is an acronym that stands for “Not in My Back Yard.”)

Let’s forget the NIMBY arguments, work together for the long term good of the whole county, and do whatever we have to do to get and keep that water! 

 

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