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Technical Work to Facilitate Settlement Negotiations: The Taos Pueblo Example. Gregory C. Ridgley WSWC / NARF Indian Water Rights Settlement Conference September 14, 2005. Roadmap. Background on Taos Pueblo water rights negotiations The logjam The deep well drilling project

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technical work to facilitate settlement negotiations the taos pueblo example

Technical Work to Facilitate Settlement Negotiations:The Taos Pueblo Example

Gregory C. Ridgley

WSWC / NARF Indian Water Rights Settlement Conference

September 14, 2005

roadmap
Roadmap
  • Background on Taos Pueblo water rights negotiations
  • The logjam
  • The deep well drilling project
  • The use of GIS to evaluate Taos Pueblo 20th century irrigated acreage
  • Results & benefits
mechem doctrine
“Mechem Doctrine”
  • State of New Mexico ex rel. State Engineer v. Aamodt, et al., U.S. District Court No. 66cv6639 MV
  • Aamodt II, 618 F. Supp. 993, 1010 (1985)
    • No Winters rights on Pueblo grant lands
    • Historically Irrigated Acreage (HIA)
    • Relevant period: 1846 – 1924
taos pueblo hia claims
Taos Pueblo HIA Claims
  • BIA July 1997 Taos Pueblo Hydrographic Survey
    • Survey Report
    • 20 Map Sheets
  • 5,712.68 acres identified as historically irrigated
the logjam
The Logjam
  • Negotiations ongoing since late 1980s
  • Parties
    • State, Pueblo, and United States
    • Non-Indian water right owners
      • Taos valley acequias (surface water irrigators)
      • Town of Taos
      • Other municipal water suppliers
the logjam1
The Logjam
  • 5,713 HIA figure was of great symbolic importance to Pueblo
  • In recent years, the Pueblo’s total irrigated acres in any one year was less than 2,500
  • Tug-of-war focused on the Pueblo’s 5,713 HIA claim
deep well drilling project
Deep Well Drilling Project
  • 1998 MOA
  • $ 2 Million federal appropriation to Bureau of Reclamation in 1999
  • Interagency Agreement with BIA to allow BIA to drill exploratory deep wells
  • Cooperative Agreement with Town
results
Results
  • 7 wells completed by 2003
  • Provided better understanding of hydrology of deep aquifer and its relationship to Rio Grande
  • Data incorporated into settlement groundwater model developed by the parties
  • Parties gained confidence in deep aquifer as potential water source
slide13

PRELIMINARY

Taos Pueblo XX Century Irrigation Acreage History

1935-1991

Office of the State Engineer

Santa Fe, November 2001

G:\drodriguez\taoshistacr\drbtaos\taospresentation2

gis project data sources
GIS Project – Data Sources
  • Maps from BIA 1997 Hydrographic Survey
  • Aerial photography
    • 1935: ortho-photo mosaics produced by Fairchild Surveys for the OSE in 1935
    • 1959: taken for OSE on May 29, 1959 and used for OSE’s hydrographic survey of the Taos area
    • 1991: USGS Digital Ortho Quarter Quads (DOQQs) taken on September 24, 1991
gis project steps
GIS Project – Steps
  • Scanned and rectified maps from BIA 1997 Hydrographic Survey
  • Created polygons in GIS for each tract identified in the 1997 Survey
gis project steps1
GIS Project – Steps
  • Overlaid GIS layer with tract polygons on aerial photos from each year (1935, 1959, 1991)
  • Applied rules for determining whether each tract showed signs of recent irrigation
slide19

Interpretation Classes

Recent Irrigation Tracts (A):Tracts that appear to have or recently have had some type of irrigation activity, such as

·Agriculture, fields of geometric distribution with agricultural crops present or recently cultivated, and having irrigation infrastructure present;

·Orchard, fields with artificial woody vegetation showing a man-made row pattern, and having presence of irrigation infrastructure;

·Pasture, fields with native or artificial grass for animal grazing, perhaps former alfalfa fields, with presence of irrigation infrastructure; and

·Reservoir, natural or man-made structures for holding water, with or without water at the time of interpretation but with clear signs of their purpose.

No Recent Irrigation Tracts (D): Tracts that appear with a land use/cover different than agricultural, pasture, orchard or reservoir, and such as

·Vegetation Cover, presence of vegetation cover other than agriculture/pasture cover, i.e. shrublands with natural or semi-natural woody vegetation usually less than 20 ft tall, in clumped, small evergreen patches; or

·Dwelling Cover, clear presence of human habitation/infrastructure.

·Water and/or Swamp, swampy-like cover.

·No Reservoir Infrastructure (NRI), no reservoir construction can be observed, even though BIA defines areas as reservoirs.

No Determination Tracts (ND): Areas where no determination was possible given the imagery and available information utilized.

gis project results
GIS Project Results
  • Total acreage identified as showing recent irrigation activity:
    • 1935: 4,914
    • 1959: 4,357
    • 1991: 4,901
  • Total acreage showing recent irrigation activity in any of the three years: 5,134
benefits gis project
Benefits – GIS Project
  • Utilized readily available data sources
  • Results easily understandable and verifiable
  • Creative use of GIS to evaluate evidence relevant to, but not determinative of, a key factual dispute
    • Mechem doctrine: 1846-1924
    • GIS project: 1935, 1959, 1991
benefits both projects
Benefits – Both Projects
  • Helped bring parties back to the table
  • Shifted focus away from zero-sum argument over acreage total of Pueblo’s HIA claim
  • Allowed parties instead to focus negotiations on other means to satisfy Pueblo’s claims, while protecting existing uses of other parties