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Pull plug on water bill, appoint state engineer

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By Sherry Robinson

Water hasn’t gotten much legislative attention this year. Maybe that’s why one bill with far reaching consequences has passed its first committee.
HB 109 would allow water permit applicants who disagree with the state engineer’s initial decisions to appeal directly to district court. In other words, a dissatisfied applicant could bypass practice and precedent and see if the courts would hand down a more favorable decision.
This is wrong on so many levels. It allows anyone who can afford a lawyer to short circuit the system. Introduced by a lawyer, Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, the bill has lawyer job security written all over it.
Recently, the state engineer denied an application to pipe water from Fort Sumner to the Rio Grande for use in Santa Fe. What if an application like this went directly to court?
The system ain’t broke and doesn’t need fixing. Currently, a dissatisfied applicant must work through the agency’s processes, which usually resolve grievances to everyone’s satisfaction, but if they don’t, then the applicant can go to court.


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