Chandler Introduces Water Rights Bill

chandler outside

Rep. Christine Chandler. Courtesy photo


House District 43 Rep. Christine Chandler and Senate Leader Peter Wirth have introduced a bill, HB 17, clarifying water lease legislation to ensure transparency and accountability in water leases.

Current law is vague on water lease hearings and is occasionally misconstrued to the detriment of water rights owners and acequias. This bill ensures potentially affected owners of neighboring water rights are notified prior to approval by the State Engineer as part of the water lease process.

“Hearings regarding water use with the Office of the State Engineer are already well-established law, but the process for notification and resolving potential water use conflicts has been unclear with regard to water leases. This is a small change in the statute, but it is important to ensuring transparency through notification of those potentially affected by a lease, and accountability by clarifying that the lease does not take effect before those potentially affected have a chance to request a hearing to air their concerns,” said Chandler.

The bill also will reduce conflicts and lawsuits regarding water leases by requiring due process already in place in other water legislation.

“Water rights are extremely important in New Mexico culture, law, and history, and ensuring fairness and transparency in water leasing is good governance” said Chandler.

Rep. Chandler can be reached during the session in her office Room 203B, by phone at 505.986.4226 or via email To join her email list, visit