A Note from the Mayor: Los Lunas Water Rights

As the west mesa of Los Lunas is transformed into a site for a Facebook Data Center and Niagara Bottling Company creates its product in the former Merillat plant in Los Lunas, people have questions about water and the Village of Los Lunas.

I, and the Los Lunas Council, can assure you that Los Lunas has set up procedures so that sufficient water and water rights will be available to meet the needs of residential and commercial customers as well as Facebook and Niagara Bottling Company.

New Mexicans know that water is the lifeblood of our communities. That is why we, the council and I, want you to know some important facts about water in Los Lunas.

The water in the village’s system comes from four wells near the Rio Grande. A fifth well should be online in 2018.

The aquifer which Los Lunas relies on for water has a large volume of storage. The aquifer is part of the reason Los Lunas has sufficient water.

The Village pumped 2,461 acre-feet of water in 2016 to residents and commercial users. This is about 800 million gallons or an average of about 2.2 million gallons per day.

Water rights refers to the legal or physical ways the Village compensates for any impact made on the Rio Grande so that the river is “kept whole.”

The Village has four different types of water rights:

  • Retirement of irrigation rights that date from 1907 or earlier 
  • Leases of the San Juan Chama Project water 
  • Return to the river of treated wastewater
  • A credit given to the Village for certain groundwater 

The Village leases some unused water rights to government agencies or individuals with a provision that the rights revert to the Village if needed.

The amount of water used by the Facebook plant will depend on many factors, including temperature and humidity.

The Village will provide an allocation of 500 acre-feet per year (AFY) of water to Facebook. An acre-foot is the volume of water covering one acre to a depth of one foot.

The 500 acre-feet should meet the demands of Phase 1 of the Facebook development.

Facebook must provide and pay for the water rights for any use over the 500 AFY.

Facebook and the Village are working together to secure additional rights even though Facebook is not projected to need them until 2018.

The council approved an agreement with Niagara Bottling Company that requires Niagara to purchase or lease and transfer suitable water rights into the Village’s wells to offset its water consumption.

The agreement also has a proviso regarding wastewater fees that will allow the Village to purchase any additional rights necessary to offset Niagara’s demand.

Owners of water rights have approached the Village with purchase offers at a reasonable price for water rights. The Village staff and council will consider such offers as they would help the community continue to have sufficient water.

The Village Council meets alternate Thursdays beginning at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 660 Main Street NW. Check the Village website for dates, www.loslunasnm.gov.

Everyone is welcome to attend. Public comment is accepted at the beginning of meetings.