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Rio Gallinas Acequias – City of Las Vegas

Gabriel Estrada presenting at the 18th Annual Congreso on behalf of the acequias on the Rio Gallinas -Photo taken by Seth Roffman

The Special Master presiding over the Rio Gallinas adjudication has issued a sixty-eight page draft report recommending an equitable remedy following the abolishment of the pueblo rights doctrine, a doctrine of law that the City of Las Vegas asserted for many decades as the basis for its claim that it is senior to all other appropriators, even the acequias whose priority dates are between 1848 and 1872.  In his report, the Special Master recommends that 1200 acre feet per year (AFY) of the City’s 2600 AFY (previously owned by PNM with a priority date of 1881) be adjudicated a priority date of 1835, the year the land grant was made.  The City’s 1835 water rights (1200 AFY) leapfrog over all of the acequia rights and have first priority in the whole system.  The acequias have 2nd priority and are senior to the City’s 1881 water rights, and other water right owners including the Gallinas Canal Company and the Storrie Project.  To “compensate” the acequias for leapfrogging the City’s 1200 AFY to 1st priority, the Special Master would have the City pay $1.7 million.  The payment would be made to individual parciantes, not to the acequias.  This comes out to about $2,000 per acre.  A final report will be filed with the district court and is subject to objections by the parties.

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