San Juan River Basin Water Management

New Mexico State Statutes (Chapter 72)

The Office of the State Engineer administers water rights in the San Juan River Basin in accordance with New Mexico water laws as provided for in Chapter 72 of the New Mexico Statutes Annotated. The State Engineer’s Aztec District Office processes water right applications, collects diversion records, employs water masters, and is responsible for administering water rights in the San Juan River Basin.

Active Water Resources Management

The State Engineer in 2004 promulgated Statewide Rules and Regulations for Active Water Resources Management, which would provide for the promulgation of rules and regulations and the development of a water master manual for the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico. Ensuing litigation over the statewide rules and regulations has delayed their implementation. In the meantime, major water users on the San Juan River in New Mexico beginning 2003 have developed a series of short-term Recommendations for San Juan River Administration and Operations, the last such recommendations covering the period 2009-2012. The recommendations include diversion limitations and provisions for sharing of any shortages between direct-flow water users, Navajo Reservoir water supply contractors, and endangered fish habitat maintenance flows.

Navajo Reservoir Operations

Navajo Reservoir is operated to meet water deliveries under contracts for water from the Navajo Reservoir supply and to meet the habitat needs of populations of endangered fish species in the San Juan River below Farmington. Reclamation each year prepares an annual operating plan for Navajo Reservoir based on water demands and forecasted water supply conditions. In the event of projected shortages to contract deliveries from the Navajo Reservoir supply, shortages are to be allocated consistent with the water allocation formula described in section 11 of Public Law 87-483.

Weather Modification

The Interstate Stream Commission in 2007 entered into a five-year agreement with the Colorado Water Conservation Board to support winter cloud seeding activities in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Annual exhibits to the agreement provide for the Interstate Stream Commission to contribute cost-share funds to operate seeding generators and extend seeding operations targeting the drainages of the San Juan River above Navajo Reservoir, the Animas River and the La Plata River.

Water Management Data

The US Geological Survey maintains stream flow gaging stations used in the management of the water resources in the San Juan River Basin. Navajo Reservoir operations data are available from the Bureau of Reclamation. The Office of the State Engineer Aztec District Office maintains non-Indian irrigation ditch diversion gaging stations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs maintains Navajo gaging stations at the Fruitland Canal and at the Hogback Canal diversions.

Consumptive Use Accounting

The Interstate Stream Commission for tracking of consumptive uses in the San Juan River Basin in New Mexico conducts field surveys of crop acreage, which survey data is stored in a Geographic Information System. The commission also periodically prepares reports of consumptive uses from the basin in New Mexico, which reports are available for inspection at the commission office in Santa Fe.