Water Rights File Abstracting
GGI offers expert services in water rights file abstracting.
Water right files:These are public records created and maintained by the Water Rights Division of the OSE. They include documents (forms, filing maps, correspondence, records of field checks, meter readings, technical analyses, etc.) pertaining to declarations, permits and changes of ownership. Some documents (such as legal staff review) related to enforcement action or application review are not publicly available. The publicly available records can be found in the OSE’s main Santa Fe office and in district offices located around the state. Some records are available online through the agency’s iWATERS digital database (www.ose.state.nm.us). Records are located and tracked by means of a water right File Number.
The records of OSE review and action on transfer applications involving similar circumstances may also provide useful, precedent information related to the transferability of a water right. Keep in mind that previous approval of a water rights transfer does not guarantee that the same conditions of approval will be applied as in the previous transfer.
Legal files: These records pertain to past and ongoing adjudication suits. Copies of executed water right offers of judgment and final adjudicatory orders are usually made available upon request since these documents are in the public records of the court having jurisdiction. Finalized hydrographic survey maps and reports are also available to the public. Draft maps may be available to the public at the discretion of the OSE. Adjudication records are tracked by the court assigned case number and a water right subfile number assigned by the OSE. A subfile number is not the same as the water right File Number.
Water rights abstract tree (click for larger image)
A field investigation on behalf of the purchaser to determine if the water rights have been put to historical beneficial use of an irrigation right is essential, especially if the subject water right has not been adjudicated. The main purpose of the site visit is to ascertain if the water rights are susceptible to a claim of forfeiture or abandonment. Things to look for include:
- Are the fields tilled or is there evidence of past farming activities?
- Condition of diversion works
- Condition of conveyance works
- Presence of permanent structures constructed on formerly irrigated land
- Presence of excessive phreatophytes
- Water-logged soils/high water table
- Meter readings for groundwater rights
Additional site information may be obtained from aerial photographs, irrigation district maps and payment records, county assessor records, acequia/mayordomo records and federal/state project reports, surveys and maps.