Questa native Kari Martinez contacted Questa del Rio News to discuss a recent issue she experienced in purchasing land in Questa.
“I bought the land in the summer of 2023 and was told I just had to contact my local association to get the water rights changed over to me, but my mom, being the treasurer of the Questa Ditch Association, felt that wasn’t accurate,” Kari says.
Kari made a trip to the Office of the State Engineer to do an application to get the water rights changed over to her. “That was also more difficult than I thought, because a lot of the maps in northern New Mexico are difficult to find in the database. The water rights had never been recorded so it was hard for them to find them.”
The Office of the State Engineer sent Kari to the Taos County Clerk’s Office to perform a “chain of title” in order to correct her records. “This is the more stressful part because who knows how many landowners there were before me, and I have to get a copy of all the warranty deeds for the Office of the State Engineer before they can be changed into my name,” she says.
Looking forward, Kari has a good idea on how to proceed, but she isn’t done with the work yet. While the local association has her local record updated, Kari needs to ensure that the Office of the State Engineer and Taos County Clerk’s Office both have it recorded as well.
Compounding the issue further is that the Office of the State Engineer can retire your water rights if they’re not used. “People who do not have their water rights properly registered could potentially get their water rights retired because they have to use them, or they could lose them. It’s really important to ensure they’re registered with the state,” Kari says.
Kari’s mother, Louise Gallegos, shares that it’s important for the association to help their members ensure that their water rights are registered to the correct owners through the official databases. “The aarea-wide acequia association we are forming in northern Taos County is a great resource because it could help with issues like this. It centralizes resources and ensures our members are supported,” Louise Gallegos says.
To check if your water rights are registered correctly, you can call the Office of the State Engineer at (505) 827-6120. To file an application to ensure your water rights are transferred to your name, visit