By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Local, state and school officials are urging residents to attend the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission’s public meeting to discus its application for control of water in the Canadian River below the Ute Lake Reservoir dam.
At the meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m., on Aug. 17 at the Tucumcari High School cafeteria, the ISC will provide information about its recent application to the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer for water control of the Canadian River and tributary sources including the Revuelto Creek below Ute Lake Reservoir to the Texas State Line.
If the ISC’s application is approved, it would affect how landowners along the Canadian River and tributary sources use the water for livestock and other purposes, said Quay County Commission Chair Franklin McCasland.
“This is an issue that could affect all the residents in Quay County, not just those living along those waterways,” McCasland said.
The ISC applied on May14 to the OSE asking for control of the water to ensure its responsibility to provide water for the continued survival of the threatened Arkansas River shiner, which has a habitat south of the reservoir on the Canadian River.
Nearly all remaining Arkansas River shiners can be found in the Canadian River in Oklahoma, western Texas and eastern New Mexico. Schools of shiners often gather on the lee side (protected side sheltered from wind) of sandbars and ridges of sand in the river channel.
The ISC application to the OSE noted it was not requesting zero acre-feet of water for consumptive use and there was no point of diversion listed for the storage or removal of water.
The main concern is if the ISC has control of the water, then it has authority to tell landowners with livestock watering tanks, retention dams and related items that they have to release the water if there is not enough water in the river, said County Manager Richard Primrose.
McCasland said there is also the possibility the control of the water would affect the leases of State Trust Land along the shore of the Canadian River and its tributaries.
The revenue generated from the lease of state lands goes toward funding of schools and colleges, said state Rep. Dennis Roch.
Roch said should a restriction of the use of water along those state lands reduce the revenue generated it would have an affect on those funds generated for schools and colleges. He said funding would decrease if the lessee is unable to utilize the land for agricultural production due to a water restriction.
Primrose said Quay County has filed a protest against the application and so has Luna County officials.
Prior to the ISC meeting, the Tucumcari FFA will have a fund-raising barbecue dinner for $10 at 5 p.m., at the same location.