Pueblo Design
 La Jicarita

A community newspaper for the Jicarita watershed, including the

Rio Mora, Rio Santa Barbara, Rio de las Trampas, Rio Pueblo, & Rio Embudo

Volume III

February 1998

Number II


Current Issue




About Us





The Oñate Center Celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the Tratado de Guadalupe Hidalgo


Puntos de Vista : What We Still Have By Stanley Crawford, Dixon farmer and writer

The Act to Save Americas' Forests No-Logging Legislation

Picuris Pueblo Seeks Funding for Water Protection Plan


In the interest of fairness and balance, I would like to request that La Jicarita publish some alternative interpretations of points made by the editor in the November 1997 issue regarding the Sipapu ski area expansion. Although the opinions expressed here are my own, I know that similar views are held by many residents of the Peñasco area who value the economic and social contributions Sipapu makes to our community.

Early in your article, after listing a series of statistics related to the expansion, you state that the Coalition "felt this represented an enormous increase over the present facility . . .". I would like to focus briefly on the "enormity" of the expansion.

At its present size, Sipapu is by far the smallest of New Mexico's ski areas, and receives about 1% of the total skier visits of the New Mexico ski industry. If the expansion plan were to proceed, at the end of the 20 year growth process Sipapu would remain the smallest of New Mexico's ski areas. If the maximum allowable 220 skiable acres were developed, it would remain smaller in skiable acres after 20 years than the current size of all but one of the other areas, and would total less than 5% of the current skiable acres in the state. In terms of skier numbers, if the maximum allowable skiers at one time under the expansion plan (1,850) is calculated at the 45% of capacity which the FEIS states is achieved by Santa Fe and Taos ski areas, Sipapu might conceivably, at the end of its 20 year expansion, host as many as 75,000 skiers per 90 day season. The number represents less than 10% of the current skier visits for all New Mexico ski areas. Given the limitations of snowfall and terrain, it seems unlikely that an expanded Sipapu would ever attract skiers at the same percentage of capacity as Santa Fe and Taos; the actual numbers would probably remain much closer to the 17% of capacity which Sipapu currently averages. It is difficult to see how an expansion which after 20 years would result in Sipapu having between one and ten per cent of current New Mexico ski area visits could be thought of as an "enormous increase."

In this same paragraph you refer to the expansion plan's provision for increasing skiable acres from 34 to 220, and parenthetically state that this represents "186 acres of clearcut." I feel that your use of the word clearcut is carefully calculated to invoke an emotional response rather than to convey an honest or accurate understanding of the effect of the expansion on the forest. I believe that most people would define a clearcut as the complete removal, all at once or within a short time period, of all trees in a large block or section of the forest. The Sipapu expansion, which would over a period of 20 years carefully and thoughtfully open a network of relatively narrow trails in the 977 acres of forest within the area's boundaries, cannot in any meaningful sense be called a clearcut.

You refer to the FEIS determination that Sipapu's snowmaking, which would reduce water levels in the river a maximum of 5.6% would not have a significant effect on the river's hydrology or fisheries. You criticize this determination as unexplained and unsupported, yet you offer no response to the FEIS's seemingly common-sense conclusion that successful overwintering of fish occurs in upstream sections of the river with similar characteristics and lower flow rates. I would also point out that, according to the FEIS, the average flow rates during the time of snowmaking at Sipapu range from 14 to 17 cubic feet per second. This represents a natural fluctuation in flow rates of 21% without apparent harm to river biology, which would seem to support the conclusion that a much smaller reduction for relatively short periods would have no negative effect. A final point with regard to this issue is that, during discussions of your concerns about river water levels, the Bolanders suggested that if a minimum desirable level could be agreed upon, a reservoir or holding tank could be built to allow the diversion of smaller amounts over a long period for snowmaking. This is one of a number of pragmatic solutions which the Bolanders have suggested and which the coalition seems to have chosen to ignore in its determination to portray them as unwilling to compromise.

Elsewhere in your article you quote figures which you claim indicate that Sipapu will divert significantly more water than indicated in the FEIS. I feel that your use of these numbers is at best inaccurate and at worst deliberately misleading. You point out that Sipapu's application to the State Engineer's Office for 55 acre feet per year for snowmaking is 50% higher than the amount accounted for in the FEIS. As I understand it, the figure on the application is based on formulas provided by the SEO for acre-feet of water allowed per acre of irrigated land and for the return credit for snowmaking. If the state engineer changes these allowances, presumably the number on the application would change accordingly. The relevant number in terms of the effect of the expansion on other water rights owners is the 37.8 afy for snowmaking referred to in the FEIS. This number represents slightly more than double the current snowmaking use for a six-fold increase in skiable terrain.

You next refer to "a declared amount of 67.8 afy from the spring and well for domestic and commercial uses." I do not know what the source of this number is, but to suggest that it is an accurate representation of the amount of water that would be used in the expansion is absurd. This would amount to about eight million gallons more than Sipapu's waste treatment plant could process if it were operating at its full capacity 365 days per year. The FEIS, basing its calculations on a 45% of capacity skier visit rate and a winter season of 120 days (both of which would tend to overestimate actual use), arrives at a figure for domestic water use for the winter season of 6.8 acre feet. A reasonable estimate for maximum summer season domestic water use might be arrived at by multiplying the 50 gpd figure used in the FEIS for overnight guests times the lodging facilities capacity (about 240) times 120 days. This calculation, which again overestimates actual use by assuming a 100% occupancy rate and a four month summer season, results in a figure of about 4.4 acre feet. Thus a generous estimate of total domestic water use at the end of the 20 year expansion is slightly over 11 afy. If you have evidence to support your assertion that over six times this amount will be used, I would urge you to make it public.

Although I believe that the above figures are a much more reasonable estimate of domestic water use in the expansion, I would also point out that in this case there is an important distinction between use and consumption. All of the water used domestically at Sipapu is treated in their sewage treatment facility, and all of the treated water is discharged to a leaching field. It seems to be the position of the coalition that this water then disappears from the system, and has no further effect on the hydrology of the river. If this is your belief, you are left in the rather awkward position of asserting that the water from the Bolanders' spring and shallow well comes from the river, but the water that is discharged to a shallow leach field a few hundred feet downstream does not return to the river. Again, if you have evidence to support this seemingly illogical conclusion, I would urge you to share it.

My last point is in reference to your statement in the La Jicarita article that "FEIS erroneously assumed that Sipapu Ski Area owned sufficient water rights to support domestic, commercial, and snowmaking uses." (Emphasis mine.) It is my understanding that the Bolanders' ownership of water rights is the subject of the lawsuit by the state engineer's office which you have promoted and supported. Though I continue to believe that your decision to compromise the traditional autonomy of our community water rights in this way is misguided and dangerous, I feel it is only fair that you play by the rules of the process you have set in motion. Whether or not the FEIS assumption about the validity of Sipapu's water rights was erroneous has not yet been determined by this process. I feel that the implication of guilt in this statement is typical of the belligerent and adversarial tone which you have consistently taken and which has so needlessly polarized this discussion. &emdash;Jake Willson

La Jicarita replies:

Whether Sipapu Summer and Winter Resort remains one of the smallest ski area in the state has no relevance to the impact the proposed expansion will have on the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo watershed and adjacent communities. What needs to be considered is that the proposed expansion will increase the overall size of the existing ski area 5 times, the skiable terrain 6 times, double the number of skiers, double the wastewater treatment demand, and at least double the water for snowmaking. The watershed has an environmental and sociological carrying capacity: These are issues of impairment and public welfare, which will be addressed in the water transfer protest before the State Engineer.

If, as Willson states, Sipapu currently operates at only 17% capacity, why is a physical expansion necessary when the present facility could serve nearly 6 times as many skiers? If, as Willson also states, an expanded Sipapu will more than likely operate at this same 17% capacity, how will the owners underwrite the costs of the expansion?

To build a ski trail or ski lift, an entire standing crop of trees is clearcut, not selectively cut ( a tree here or there removed). The FEIS failed to incorporate a plan for trail development. We have seen two different proposed trail maps, which makes it unclear exactly what trails will be developed, and when. It should also be noted that all these cuts will be on steep slopes directly above the Rio Pueblo.

Willson refers to the FEIS conclusion that a 5.6% flow reduction would have no impact on the river fisheries as "common sense." This is his assumption. The Forest Service based its conclusions upon outdated (1936-41) average flow rates, which don't take into account fluctuations in river flow during snowmaking season. It is impossible to predict the effects upon river hydrology and fisheries without current data or a study which would determine what percentage of decrease would have an effect.

To our knowledge, during negotiations with the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition the owners never proposed a reservoir or holding tank be used to achieve a minimum desired flow level in the river. As a matter of fact, the owners never submitted a compromise proposal of any kind and rejected the proposal made by the Coalition. The only time we can recall a holding tank being suggested was at a community meeting in 1997, which the owners didn't attend.

Willson is mistaken in his assertion that 37.8 afy is the relevant number. The ski area owners initial application for 55 afy, and subsequent application for 114 afy, clearly state that all this water is to be used for snowmaking. Also bear in mind, the Forest Service FEIS (which has been withdrawn) based its conclusions upon a 90% return flow from a study conducted at the Santa Fe Ski Area, which the State Engineer rejected. The return flow credit at Santa Fe was determined to be 50%.

On July 18, 1995, Dennis Cooper, consulting engineer for the ski area, filed a declaration of underground water rights on behalf of the owners of the ski area, claiming a diversion right of 67.8 afy from the well and spring. While this declaration was subsequently withdrawn, it remains the only attempt by the owners to quantify the water rights associated with the well and spring, which the State Engineer ordered them to do in November of 1994. Furthermore, the State Engineer has consistently ruled that water from a spring constitutes a surface water diversion.

The FEIS made no attempt to analyze summer water use: Willson's figures are speculative. The Coalition has attempted to point out the inadequacies and discrepancies in the FEIS and has never speculated as to what the ski area's actual consumptive water use is. Over the course of many meetings the Coalition asked ski area owners to quantify, meter, and adhere to a diversion of water for snowmaking and domestic and sanitary purposes that everyone could agree was within the carrying capacity of the river. Ski area owners insisted, even after the Santa Fe Ski Area decision, that this figure be based on a 90% return flow credit and consistently refused to quantify their diversion of water from the well and spring or meter it.

In the November issue the editors questioned the FEIS's assumption that the ski area owns sufficient water rights to support domestic, commercial, and snowmaking uses for the expansion. Contrary to what Willson says, this questioning does not contest validity or assign guilt; it points out the inadequacy of the FEIS.

As far back as September 15, 1995, the Coalition tried to initiate compromise negotiations to avoid going to a hearing before the State Engineer. We met for over a year with ski area owners to work towards compromise. All of these meetings were cordial until an April 1997 meeting at Picuris Pueblo when ski area employees set the tone by questioning who the Coalition represents and whether it had standing to oppose the expansion. Ski area employees have subsequently asserted that the Coalition represents only a handful of people in the watershed. For the record, there are 13 protestants to the ski area's second water transfer application, who are parciantes on almost every acequia in the Dixon/Embudo area and parciantes in Mora and Vadito. The protest has the support of all of the Coalition member groups (including Amigos Bravos, Mora Land and Water Protective Association, and Picuris Pueblo), the New Mexico Acequia Association, and many individuals throughout the watershed. Finally, ski area supporters would better serve the interests of the ski area, the community, and the watershed if they would acknoweldge that there are problems with the ski area's proposed water use and expansion plan. Protestants have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to find a compromise solution which could address these problems and keep the ski area viable.

The Oñate Center Celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the Tratado de Guadalupe Hidalgo

The United States of America and the Mexican Republic signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848 ending the Mexican-American War. The Treaty, officially called the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement between the United Sates and the Mexican Republic, ceded to the United States the territory that became the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and part of the state of Colorado.

The Treaty also guaranteed ownership of Spanish and Mexican land grants that were an integral part of the colonization and growth of the New Mexico territory. As we all know, the United States failed to honor the tenets of the Treaty: By means of misrepresentation before the Court of Private Land Claims, which required land grants defend their titles, many of these grant lands were misappropriated and eventually ended up in the hands of the United States government. These lands are currently administered by the Forest Service, BLM, and Park Service.

In 1997, newly elected Congressman Bill Redmond introduced legislation to establish a Presidential Commission to determine the validity of land claims arising out of the Treaty. The bill provides for a land grant's "restoration to full status as a municipality with rights properly belonging to a municipality under State law" and calls for the establishment of a review commission consisting of five members appointed by the President, at least two of whom would be grant heirs, to review land claims. A study center would be established at the Oñate Center in Alcalde for research of archival material to aid heirs in their attempts to substantiate claims before the commission.

During the weekend of February 6-8 the Oñate Center hosted the 150th anniversary celebration of the signing of the Treaty. Musicians Chuy Martinez, Cipriano Vigil, Antonio Salinas, Arcenio Córdova and Lenny Roybal played and sang on all three days; poet Levi Romero read on Saturday; Marcos Martinez presented the play Tierra Sagrada; and on Sunday people walked to the historic Embudo Battle site. There were also panel discussions where norteños spoke of the history of the Treaty and its implications for the future.

A panel comprised of Max Cordova, Moises Morales, and Chellis Glendinning (who sat in at the last minute for Ike DeVargas) spoke on Saturday afternoon. Speaking in Spanish, Rio Arriba County Commissioner Morales said the hopes of the land-based people of northern New Mexico rest upon final redress of the abrogated Treaty. Max Córdova, president of the Truchas Land Grant, explained the Grant's participation in a collaborative effort with the Forest Service and forest communities to establish management practices on the Carson National Forest that will benefit both the communities and the health of the land. Córdova also quoted the adage: "A community that does not remember its past has no future." Just as other communities around the world must fight human rights violations, so must the Indo-Hispano people of northern New Mexico fight to save their land and culture.

Chellis Glendinning, a writer and environmentalist from Chimayó, spoke about the conflict between certain environmentalists and norteños over management of public lands. She revealed that she and a number of other advisory and board members had recently resigned from the national environmental group Earth Island Institute because of the Institute's support of the Zero Cut agenda, a national movement to end all commercial logging on public lands. Environmental groups that support this position, she said, have no understanding of the concept of New Mexico's "inhabited wilderness" where people live on and care for the land. This support also defines them as imperialists&emdash;those privileged few who make decisions about other people's lives.

When the discussion was opened up to audience participation, Linda Pedro compared the situation here in New Mexico to that of Chiapas, Mexico, where the Zapatistas are fighting for their lands. She said she had recently heard a report that the Mexican government is sending soldiers to the United States to be trained in counterinsurgency, and that the American people need to be made aware of this complicity.

Velia Silva said it is time for norteños to establish a broad political party of their own, like the La Raza Unida party, to set their own agenda. "If we keep thinking we can put our hopes in [Bill] Redmond, he'll just lead us down the same path as [Bill] Richardson." "Yo soy un Indio y Hispano," she said. "Our grandmothers gave us the right to the land, not the King and Queen of Spain, and these women were Indios." She urged all Hispanos and Indios to work together to protect the land from the imminent danger of development, as people from urban areas move to New Mexico to enjoy its pristine beauty. Max Córdova concurred, and pointed out that the Pueblos of northern New Mexico have successfully used the Treaty to protect their sovereignty; now it is time for the Hispanos to do so as well.


• The Camino Real Ranger District is soliciting public comment on the proposed Tienditas II thinning project in the Valle Escondido area of Carson National Forest. A forty acre stand of Douglas fir would be thinned to provide better understory growth as well as provide forest products to adjacent communities. If you have concerns or questions about the proposed project you may contact Henry Lopez or Ben Kuykendall at P. O. Box 68, Peñasco, NM 87553 or call 587-2255.

 • The Air Force has extended the public comment period regarding its proposed bomber-training routes over northern New Mexico until March 17. They will also hold a follow-up meeting in Taos in mid-March. Send your comments to: RBTI EIS, c/o

7CES/CEV, 710 3rd Street, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas 79607

Puntos de Vista : What We Still Have

By Stanley Crawford, Dixon farmer and writer

One of the confusions of the times is that we live astride two economies, a global economy and a local economy.

The global economy has little use for places like northern New Mexico in terms of production. We are wanted only as consumers. The success of our work as consumers will be measured in the size of our landfills and junkyards, the ultimate products of the consumer society.

Local economies everywhere in the world are being outmaneuvered by transnational corporations, who in various ways shut down small stores, family farms, and other forms of locally owned businesses and related cultural institutions. We all love to celebrate low prices&emdash;but what we are really celebrating is low wages. In the global economy, everyone who works and labors is in competition with everyone else. At some level, wages are set in Bangladesh, or in the prisons of China, or in the tomato fields of Mexico&emdash;for all of us. Welfare reform can be seen as a recent adjustment to the effect that in global terms we have been overpaying the very poor.

The only thing we produce in northern New Mexico that is of real interest to the global economy is water. And with Intel next door, every time we buy or even use a computer we are, you might say, making a down payment for their purchase of our water. At the rate things are going, they may well get it.

But though we are all hooked on the products and habits of multinational corporations, with our cars, our need for gas, computers, TV, and so on, the local economy is far from dead&emdash;and it is here that I place what little hope I have. In terms of our local economy, our several micro economies, here are some of our strengths:

• Our water is guarded by a thousand small acequias. These have proven surprisingly resistant to what has happened, say, in California, where cities have stripped agricultural areas of their water to feed urban growth.

• The acequias have supported and are supported by perhaps tens of thousands of small subsistence farmers and livestock producers and gardeners. Agribusiness has never got a foothold in northern New Mexico in the way it has taken over the Central Valley and Imperial Valley of California despite federal laws designed to prevent just that.

• Our landholdings are fragmented because of the riverine terrain, unreliable rainfall, and a wide variety of microclimates, which is discouraging to giantism in all its forms while is yet a spur to innovation and adaptation and both independence and interdependence. A strong sense of community has emerged out of the difficult living conditions of northern New Mexico. And because northern New Mexico has been left alone&emdash;relatively, compared to California&emdash;agricultural traditions that would have been obliterated elsewhere have survived relatively intact.

• Northern New Mexico was a market center, you might say, well into pre-Hispanic times, and its market function continues to develop and expand. A relatively recent introduction, the farmers' market, begun in the late 1960s in Los Alamos, and then Santa Fe, has expanded to include Taos, Española, Las Vegas, and Farmington. All told these markets generate over two million dollars for small farmers in the north, small food processors, farm-craft producers, and a recent addition of livestock products&emdash;meat, eggs, and dairy products. The Santa Fe Farmers' Market has been growing at over 10% a year for some time now. It has been recognized as one of the finest farmers' markets in the country.

A local food economy has some terrific advantages over agribusiness:

• Economic transparency. A well run farmers' market guarantees that what you buy is locally grown and sold to you by the farmer or grower who produced it. A farmers' market is a rich information system. I am a world-class expert on my garlic, zucchini, basil, etc.&emdash;as every farmer there is an expert in what he or she produces. Every market day my customers tell me things that help me become a better grower, just as I tell them things that help them become more discerning customers, cooks, gardeners, growers, and eaters. A farmers' market is where buyers and sellers are equal&emdash;where no one is tracked and shadowed and spotlighted by billion dollar corporate promotional campaigns.

• Quality. Most fancy hybrids developed and engineered for agribusiness favor shelf life and cosmetic values over flavor and nutrition. Most produce in this country travels a thousand miles between farm and table, during which it is handled a half dozen times between harvest and use, during picking, sizing, brushing, stacking, bagging, scanning, rebagging, and so on. Of course, virtually all agribusiness produce has been richly sprayed with herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and sprout inhibitors, and much has been dipped and dyed. Agriculture is the worst pollutant in the nation, and the chemicals used by agribusiness have not shared in the slow evolutionary processes of agriculture and civilization. We are in almost total ignorance of the complex effects of these substances on the environment and upon our bodies.

• It should be clear that our own fruits and vegetables will be more flavorful when emerging from soils that have not been sterilized, burned, or rendered lifeless by high concentrations of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides&emdash;and will be far better for having traveled only a few inches between hand and mouth, or a few miles between farm and farmers' market.

• In this age of elaborate corporate dependencies, I like to say that planting and growing a garden is the most independent thing you can possibly do. It's a way to say that we're not entirely slaves to Exxon, Intel, Chevy or Toyota.

• And of course underlying all of this is the acequia: the local democracy at its most basic form, the little public utility, the backyard form of government that we can all participate in, like nothing else in this country.

For better or worse, we live in a market economy. By using our land to serve local markets, we have some hope of saving our land and water and our acequias for the next generations to continue this work. If we don't use our land, if we don't help local markets as either producers or consumers, then Intel and friends will buy and sell northern New Mexico.

The economic lesson of northern New Mexico, the traditional lesson, is this: stay small. Keep your overhead low. Be ready for the bad year before it happens, not afterward. Do your work, your field work, your ditch work, your grassroots work, and then maybe go for your grants&emdash;but don't depend on them to keep you alive. Acequias and farmers' market organizations both tell us this useful lesson: acequias have survived because people participated for hundreds of years, not because of grants. Farmers' markets in northern New Mexico have survived their first generation through the contributions of their farmers, not through public assistance, which continues to be a fraction of the Santa Fe Area Farmers' Market budget.

We still have the land, the water, and the acequias. The farmers' markets are there. They need you as producers, but also as buyers, as activists, as committee members, as board members. We can still say that the best chile is grown in Chimayó or Hernandez or Velarde or Dixon. We can still say that the best apples come from Nambé, Chimayó, Velarde, or Dixon. We can still say that the best corn comes from the Española Valley or Alcalde or Lyden, the best lamb from Tierra Amarilla. We can still talk about where the best garlic, wine grapes, basil, and tomatoes come from.

These are the things we still have. They will be there for the next generation only if we use them.

The Act to Save Americas' Forests No-Logging Legislation

As a follow-up to last month's article concerning the Act To Save Americas' Forests bill that has been introduced in Congress, La Jicarita spoke with Eric Goldsmith, legislative coordinator for the environmental group Save Americas Forests. As previously reported, the bill would outlaw clearcutting, logging in ancient forests, in roadless areas, and alongside rivers on all public lands. There are also areas designated "special" that may not meet the definition of ancient forests but have been listed as off-limits to logging. In the bill, the lands classified as special areas in New Mexico include: Angostura (10,000 acres); La Manga (5,400 acres); Elk Mountain (7,220 acres); and the Jemez Highlands (54,400 acres).

La Jicarita asked Goldsmith how these particular areas were chosen for inclusion. Goldsmith stated that his group had reviewed Forest Service information regarding these lands, but essentially relied upon the recommendations of two environmental groups: Forest Guardians and the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity.

The Angostura section lies within the Camino Real Ranger District of Carson National Forest between NM 518, the Pecos Wilderness, the Rito Angostura and the Agua Piedra drainage. While this area is one of the most diverse and culturally significant forests in the district, it was heavily logged at the beginning of this century by the Santa Barbara Pole and Tie Company. The Angostura Management Area Environmental Assessment is due out this spring.

The La Manga area is part of the Vallecitos Sustained Yield Unit in the El Rito Ranger District, site of the controversial La Manga timber sale, finally released late last year after three years of litigation. The first Unit, La Manga Jo, has already been partially logged by La Compania Ocho of Vallecitos.

Elk Mountain lies just south of the Pecos Wilderness in the Pecos Ranger District. In the late 1960s a huge controversy erupted over this area when the Forest Service proposed building an east/west highway that would connect Terrero to Las Vegas and provide access to a proposed timber sale (and possible ski area). The road was never built and the area contains virgin forest.

The Jemez Highlands is described in the bill as "Certain lands in the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest, totaling approximately 54,000 acres, known as the 'Jemez Highlands', located primarily in Sandoval County, New Mexico." Goldsmith could give no more specific description, and land and timber staff at the Jemez Ranger District had never heard of the term "Jemez Highlands."

The inclusion of the La Manga area immediately raises a red flag in New Mexico after the recent battles over management there. While many people see this bill as a more reasonable alternative to protecting our forests than the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act, (also introduced in Congress prohibiting all commercial logging on public lands), questions remain regarding the areas classified as "special", and who is responsible for that classification. Both Forest Guardians and the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity have filed lawsuits which many norteños feel have been harmful to northern New Mexico communities and have failed to distinguish between sustainable, community based resource use and corporate exploitation.

Picuris Pueblo Seeks Funding for Water Protection Plan

Last year Picuris Pueblo and representatives from area domestic water associations went to the State Legislature to ask for funds to assess needs and solutions to bacterial and nutrient contamination of shallow wells and surface waters in the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo watershed. The legislature failed to fund this study, so the Pueblo went back to the legislature this year and asked for $225,000 to cover the costs of community hearings, water quality public health training, and development of a water supply protection plan. As La Jicarita goes to press, it looks like this bill will also fail to pass, but some monies in another capital outlay project may be available for monitoring wells.

The Pueblo has secured an agreement from the Bureau of Reclamation for $150,000 to help underwrite an assessment over the next two-year period; they are working to match this grant from other sources. The Pueblo has also hired Catalina Muniz of Rodarte to work as liaison with all the watershed communities on a water protection plan. An organizational meeting was held in January, and subsequent meetings will be scheduled (La Jicarita will try to provide advance notice).

The Pueblo would like to see the contamination problem addressed with small scale technology, such as a series of wetlands, rather than burden the community with the costs of a waste treatment plant. If you would like more information or would like to become involved in the planning process you may contact Catalina Muniz at Picuris Pueblo, 587-2519.

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