Article Title

Water Marketing


Water doesn’t just flow around New Mexico in streams and rivers: it also moves around on paper. Since all of the state’s surface-water and most of its groundwater have already been allocated, the only way for cities, developers, or conservation organizations to find new water supplies is to buy and transfer water rights from old uses and places to new uses and places. The N.M. Office of the State Engineer (OSE) approves each of these transfers, most of which are relatively small, but the numbers can add up over time. Between 1982 and 2011, for instance, 21,000 acre-feet of Middle Rio Grande water were transferred. Most of the transfers have been from agricultural rights to cities such as Albuquerque and Santa Fe. As increased drought, climate change, and population growth place additional demands on water managers, “ag-to-urban” water transfers will likely increase.

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Contributors: Kyle Harwood, William Turner.



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