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Cow Creek Water Rights Adjudication

Adjudicación de derechos de agua de Cow Creek

Cow Creek

The Pecos River Water Rights Adjudication is a legal proceeding to determine the priority, amount of water and other elements of all water rights in the Pecos River Stream System. Cow Creek is a tributary of the Pecos River.

The Court commenced adjudicating water rights in the Cow Creek Section of the Pecos River on October 9, 2015, when it ordered that notice of the adjudication of water rights in Cow Creek be mailed to all known water rights claimants.

Case Management Order Mandating Basin-Wide Issue Proceeding and Expedited Inter Se Proceedings and Prescribing Procedure for Giving Notice of All Such Proceedings; 10-9-15.

The Cow Creek drainage is located entirely within San Miguel County. (Location Map) From its headwaters in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Cow Creek traverses in a southerly direction approximately 35 miles until it enters the Pecos River three miles upstream of the Village of San Jose. The Cow Creek drainage includes Cow Creek and its perennial tributaries Elk Creek, Soldier Creek, Chaperito Creek, Manzanares Creek and bull Creek.

Procedure for Adjudicating Water Rights

The Court will adjudicate each element of each water right in Cow Creek and its tributaries.  The elements of a water right are priority, amount to water, purpose of use, place of use and, if water is used for irrigation, the location of the specific tract of land to which the water right is appurtenant.

In the Cow Creek Section, the Court will adjudicate water rights in two types of proceeding:

  • “Section wide” proceedings.  A section wide proceeding is a court proceeding in which the Court resolves an issue that will impact all or substantially all water rights in the section.  An example of a section wide proceeding is a proceeding to determine the consumptive irrigation and farm delivery requirements for water right in Cow Creek. The Court will set a deadline for the parties to identify issues they believe should be adjudicated in section wide proceedings.  Notice of that deadline, and of all court proceedings related to the determination of section wide issues, will be given in the Monthly Adjudication Report.    
  • Expedited Inter Se Proceedings.  After all section wide issues have been resolved, the Court will adjudicate each claimant’s water right in a separate proceeding dealing with that water right.  In an adjudication both the State Engineer (acting on behalf of the State of New Mexico) and other water rights claimants can object to a claimant’s water right.  In the Cow Creek Section, the Court will adjudicate each water right in a so-called “expedited inter se” proceeding.  In an expedited inter se proceeding, the Court resolves all disputes between the claimant and the Office of the State Engineer, as well as any disputes between the claimant and other claimants, at one time in the same proceeding.

Prior Notice of Adjudication Proceedings

The Court has ordered that the the State Engineer (on behalf of the State of New Mexico) mail to every known water right claimant in Cow Creek a notice informing them that, to obtain prior notice of all court deadlines and hearing, they must subscribe to the Court’s Monthly Adjudication Report.  A form for subscribing to the report can be found here.