New Chapter Opens for Indian Water Rights Settlement 

Galloping horses depicted in large oil paintings on the walls of the meeting room at the Sagebrush Inn added an energizing backdrop to a steady stream of impassioned speakers at two meetings Monday and Tuesday (Oct. 21-22) about the Abeyta Water Rights Settlement.

Guardians of Taos water activist, Steven Romero

Sponsored by the Bureau of Reclamation, these scoping meetings on Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos, marked the beginning of a formal environmental review process concerning the 14 mutual benefits projects outlined in Article 6 of the settlement.

The mutual benefits – involving mitigation and supply wells that tap the deeper aquifers – are the more controversial parts of the settlement. Taos News, October 2019, more 


Prayer Ceremony to protest deep water wells

Water Activists Stage Protest 

On the shoulder of U. S. Highway 64 with Taos Mountain, Taos mesa and El Prado Water and Sanitation District’s newest well site as a backdrop, Cliff Bain and Ted Shuey scraped the ground of weeds, then collected rocks from along the highway right of way on Sept. 14.

The two Taos area residents are regarded as elders among a younger generation of protestors who have shepherded a grassroots coalition into Guardians of Taos Water, an organization pledged to safeguard Taos Valley from what in their view is a misuse of its land and water.

Safeguards for water and land use seem all the more pressing in light of the broader issues making headlines today: climate change, rollbacks in environmental protections and degradation of streams. Taos News, September 2019, more


Water Quality and Security at New Water Well

Buck Johnston stands on top of a drilling rig Friday (March 15) during a four-day protest of the terms of the Abeyta Settlement.

Emblazoned with the letters DRAFT set crosswise on the cover, a stapled copy of the Water Quality Report from Midway Well number 5 lay on the board room table in front of John Painter.

Toward the end of the July 24 monthly board meeting, Painter, a board member of El Prado Water and Sanitation District, held the report aloft and announced: “We got this damn thing, finally!”

But Painter didn’t go into the report’s details at the meeting. He had even bigger news: “We’re cleared to drill number 6.”  Taos News, August 2019, more

Photo by Megan Bowers for The Taos News

Historic Water Rights Settlement Moves Forward

The agreement — together with all its maps, attachments, exhibits and court documents — is less a thing and more a living tapestry of the story of the people of Taos Valley. Follow one thread and you encounter the Blue Lake law of 1970 that returned Blue Lake Wilderness to Taos Pueblo. Another thread leads to the infamous Arthur Manby land purchases in 1910 while another ties into the 1893 Río Lucero decree. Still another part of the agreement links back to the years before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and to a certain Spanish settler and sargento mayor, Diego Lucero De Godoy, who gave his name to both a land grant and a river.

Understanding the agreement and its implications to the future of Taos Valley often means seeing how you, your family and your ditch (or mutual domestic or water district) may be wrapped up in it.

In the end, it’s personal. And yet, we’re all in this together.  Taos News, March 2017, more


Courtesy  New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources The mineral obstruction is believed to be zinc carbonate, discovered in the 3,200-foot well at about 1,900 feet down.

from Mineral Monsters, Skanky Rocks, Crazy Egg Cartons: Welcome to the Aquifer, The Taos News, September 2016

Through a murky half-light, a subterranean water world percolates with activity. A video camera lowered into a 3,200 foot well records the scene: large white flakes swirling, colliding, and growing. Within a week, the resulting ‘mineral monster’ sealed off the foot-wide casing, clogging it with an impenetrable barrier. more

from Aquifer Mapping Project a Sweet Deal, The Taos News, August, 2016

We plant ourselves on a bench in the shaded garden outside Trudy Healy’s Rancho Milagro Collection Gallery in Taos, New Mexico. Ed Healy ambles over, offering chocolate. Daughter Felice Knox recounts the time she gave a bear fetish to Hillary Clinton. And gallery director Alicia Waltz explains a tattoo of numbers scrawled across her arm: “It’s the derivation of the ground water flow equation. No, really! more

from Water Plan Hits Milestone, The Taos News, July 2016

When Andrew Chavez said that maybe the solution to improving the economics of agriculture in the valley was to grow marijuana, subdued chuckles and outright guffaws helped relieve the palpable tension in the room….A wide group of stakeholders participated, yet historic skepticism, old fears, and well-founded grudges hovered at the edge of the meeting like ghosts of Christmases past. more