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Withdrawn "Water Grab" a Sign of Times to Come?

October 13, 2008

Socorro, NM - Some say it is a small, but important, defeat for would-be water speculators in New Mexico. Broe, an out-of-state company, has withdrawn its request to appropriate public water resources in Catron County, after running into legal challenges and opposition from local residents.

Bruce Frederick, of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center says what's been referred to as the "Broe water grab" holds a positive lesson for New Mexicans.

"When a foreign corporation comes in and appears to be speculating in water, the locals aren't defenseless."

The company says it requested the permits primarily for agricultural irrigation, but Frederick believes the appropriation would have violated state water laws, and says it appeared to be a speculative investment. He adds that, while the Broe case involved a relatively small amount of water, it could be a sign of things to come.

"There's kind of a sense that it's time to make a killing in water, by developing what's left of New Mexico's unappropriated groundwater reserves."

Frederick also represents a group opposed to another out-of-state request, for more than 50,000 acre-feet annually near Datil, southwest of Albuquerque.

Eric Mack/Steve Powers, Public News Service - NM