Groups ask state to protect Albuquerque Basin aquifer

By Mike Neas, Central NM Group Groundwater Issues

Efforts are underway to better protect the entire Albuquerque Basin aquifer at the state level with an Executive Order.

We are asking all local governments and Pueblos, as well as organizations, to send letters and resolution to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham asking for an Executive Order for special rules and protections for the Albuquerque Basin. Concerned citizens can call your elected officials and candidates and make known the need for an assured clean-
water supply now and in the future.

Citizens dependent on the Albuquerque Basin aquifer got a real wakeup call when SandRidge Energy Inc. secured a fracking permit from the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division in 2015. It took more than two years of crowded and contentious meetings in front of the Sandoval County Commission to defeat a couple of very bad, industry-driven ordinances. But the county has not passed any sort of protective oil and gas ordinance. What was accomplished was an awakening of the people of the Albuquerque Basin to the realities of their water protections in place now.

Roughly 24 local governments and pueblos are dependent on the water of the Albuquerque Basin. These local governments represent more than three quarters of a million people. Sandoval County still has no oil and gas ordinance in place and relies solely on the same Special Use permitting system that was arbitrarily administered in the SandRidge matter. In the entire Albuquerque Basin area, there are no local government oil and gas ordinances. At best most local governments, including the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, rely on the Special Use permitting process.

Sandoval County residents’ efforts to assure protections for the air, water, environment and public safety from the pollution potential of oil and gas taught us some very important facts. The Albuquerque Basin or Middle Rio Grande Rift is one of only four active rifts in the world. As an active rift, it is heavily faulted and fractured. It is unstable. Horizontal drilling and fracking have inevitable potential to do serious and irreversible damage to the Albuquerque Basin aquifer.

This is a 350NM-led initiative. Everyone is encouraged to join in.

Mike Neas is the Ground Water Issues contact for the Central New Mexico Group of the Rio Grande Chapter.
Map from 350 New Mexico.

Groups ask state to protect Albuquerque Basin aquifer