Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Demand for water is growing in New Mexico. One potential solution to extend future supplies may be transferring water rights. Water rights transfers occur when existing water rights are moved to a new location or use. Because water transfers are becoming an increasingly popular way to re-allocate water, water rights holders should become familiar with the transfer process and the administrative bodies and policies governing their movement. The transfer process can be complex, influenced by many variables. Parties interested transferring water rights may be unaware of these variables and lack a basic understanding of what constitutes a water right, how water rights are determined, transaction costs, and common pitfalls in the transfer process that can lead to the denial a transfer. Pitfalls identified in this paper include initial validity of the right, continuous beneficial use, defects in title or ownership of the right, type of water right, and protests. Water right holders that can overcome these pitfalls may increase their chances of a successful transfer. The purpose of this paper is to provide a roadmap' or 'guide' to right holders interested in transferring water rights. A discussion of water rights, their administration, and the transfer process will be given to explain this relationship. Next, the five pitfalls identified will be explained to show why they are important in the transfer process. Finally, recommendations will be given on what right holders should do before transferring their water rights.

Language (ISO)



water rights, transferring rights


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Water Resources, University of New Mexico.