Water Resource Allocation Program (WRAP)

Water is New Mexico's most precious resource, especially during times of drought. Under New Mexico water law, all ground and surface waters belong to the public and are subject to appropriation under the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation, a constitutional provision that says earlier appropriations have priority over later appropriations.

The Water Resources Allocation Program (WRAP) with the Office of the State Engineer is responsible for processing water rights applications, conducting the scientific research for making those water rights decisions, maintaining water rights records, and enforcing any conditions or restrictions on water use.

Water Masters in the program measure stream flow, allocate the water within a stream system based on state water law, and regulate and control diversions. Staff also inventory water resources, monitor water use, and cooperate with the U.S. Geologic Survey in monitoring groundwater levels throughout the state.

WRAP includes the following areas:

Water Rights Division - Anyone wanting to use water in New Mexico must have a permit from the State Engineer. The Water Rights division evaluates applications for a new appropriation or to change the place and/or purpose of use of an existing water right.

Dam Safety Bureau - Ensures that dams in New Mexico are designed, constructed, operated, and maintained as safely as possible.

Hydrology Bureau - Develops water resource models and administrative policies, evaluate water availability, assess and quantify hydrologic impact, provide expert testimony for litigation and adjudication cases, and research and design technical projects. Manages the statewide groundwater level monitoring program and the OSE library archives.

Statewide Support Team - The Santa Fe Statewide Support team within the Water Resource Allocation Program are highly trained and specialized employees charged with many duties including GIS/GPS Support, Community Outreach and the Well Driller Licensing program

Water Rights Abstract Bureau - The Water Rights Abstract Bureau is responsible for analyzing and abstracting water rights files for entire water basins and populating the Water Rights Reporting System database, for providing basin-wide GIS water right mapping and for developing electronic information products for water resource management and administration.

Water Use and Conservation -  Inventories surface and groundwater withdrawals and depletions by category, county, and river basin and coordinates water conservation activities for the State of New Mexico.

Additional duties are maintaining and updating the rules and regulations of the State Engineer.

For more information on water resources allocation in New Mexico, contact one of our District Offices