New Mexico

Water rights deal pits New Mexico villagers against oilman

PECOS, N.M. - A battle is brewing between residents of a northern New Mexico village and a Texas oilman who has a ranch along the Pecos River.

Pecos resident and gas station owner Pancho Adelo says he's concerned that the village is in danger of losing water to development.

At issue is a pending water rights transfer that villagers believe will affect a centuries-old acequia that diverts water for agricultural use.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports  several residents have filed protests against a proposed transfer of 20 acre-feet of water from Pecos resident and Village Council member Herman Gallegos to Benjamin Strickling's ranch.

Despite Strickling's assurances that the traditional use of the water would be maintained, critics say it's hard for regulators to enforce just how much water the ranch pumps out or ensure that Gallegos stops using the water upstream.

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