On an annual basis, municipalities, cities, and towns are responsible for reporting the amount of water being used by their jurisdiction. Since 1975, the Village of Questa’s amount of water being pumped out of the wells has been in question as the reports never matched the amount of water the village used.
The discrepancy recently came to a head, showing that Questa would have to pay over $6 million dollars for the 2,000 acre-feet of water rights being used by the village.
The State Engineer worked with the Village of Questa on a Return Flow Credit plan, which paid the deficit to the State Engineer in full.
While the water rights deficit has been cleared, Mayor Ortega says there is still work to be done.
“We are always looking for water rights to increase the Village of Questa’s water infrastructure and supply. People aren’t always looking to sell their water rights, but we remain committed to expanding our infrastructure,” Mayor Ortega says.
In a letter from the State Engineer, they commit to continuing to provide a 30% retroactive flow credit going forward, which underscores the village’s need to find sources of funding for its water use to prevent another deficit with the state.
Currently, Chevron is working closely with the village to provide a lease or donation of water rights, however, Chevron remains in gridlock with the Office of the State Engineer as they work to determine if Chevron’s water rights are valid. If this issue is resolved, the village could potentially see added water rights to its overall infrastructure and supply at no cost to the residents.
Mayor Ortega says Chevron has agreed to fund the engineering of a new water well and the Office of the State Engineer is working closely with the village to see this project through.
“I am very appreciative and grateful to Chevron for the donation of $141,000 to get the plan, design, and engineering done for this new water well,” said Mayor Ortega. “I am also very grateful to the Office of the State Engineer for working with the Village of Questa toward resolutions.”
In 2016, the residents of Questa went without water for an extended period of time when the wells went dry. Mayor Ortega says improving the infrastructure within the village is a priority because of this experience. “I am grateful the State Engineer is working with us to build a new well and also, to get a flow credit plan in place. This is a major win for our community, with improved infrastructure, it lessens our chance of another major water outage, this is a big priority for us,” Mayor Ortega says.