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State Weighs Request for Massive Water Appropriation

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New Mexico officials are considering an application from a New York-based company to drill for billions of gallons of water in a remote stretch of the state to meet demands in the Rio Grande Valley.

Backers of the Augustin Plains Ranch venture say demand has already outstripped supply along the Rio Grande and it’s bound to get worse as cities grow and drought persists — a problem faced throughout the West.

But one of New Mexico’s largest irrigation districts, residents and others are crying foul. They see it as a modern-day water grab.

It’ll be up to State Engineer Scott Verhines to decide the project’s fate.

He’ll be weighing water law that stretches back more than a century as well as any potential precedent the case could set for future water management decisions.

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