Don Phillips has been making rounds with his presentation on the geology of the Upper Rio Grande, Albuquerque Basin.

Don Phillips Geologist Former mayor of Fairview Texas Presentation of the Geology of the Upper Rio Grande

This video presentation that was given to the County Commision and the Natural Resource Committee of the All Pueblo Council of Governors, who graciously allowed the presentation for educational purposes. These meetings were designed to spread the word to our elected officials and now the public.  This is a candid discussion of the issue of hydraulic fracking from a perspective of an oil and gas expert and geologist.  It was science that they listened to that helped vote down the ordinance in December. This gives us a bit of hope that there are solutions to moving forward.

For over the past month several people from various groups have met to discuss a vision for moving forward.  After discussions with several civic leaders and citizens groups, it was apparent that there was a need to present a proposal to the County Commission and surrounding stakeholders area. We are have worked with several groups to compose a Final Draft Resolution For Stakeholders Regional Plan

If there was ever a perfect example of the need for the right of nature to exist, it is now in the Rio Grande Valley.

The future of life as we know it is at risk, and this is because the logic of maximum profit for the benefit of the few has been imposed on a finite planet with limited and fragile resources. Over-exploitation, excessive mineral resource extraction, over-consumption and unbridled waste are altering the vital cycles of nature. It is essential that we recover our humanity and end this logic of commodification and privatization imposed by capitalism. We need to strengthen and recover our indigenous roots of respect for Mother Earth. We must listen to the scientific community that alerts us to the interdependence of all elements of the Earth system. And we must create – and recreate – economic models that preserve the regenerative capacity of nature. In short, it is urgent that we share and embrace the essence of the rights of Mother Earth.

“We, the peoples and nations of Earth: considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny…”

-Click to sign the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth



Yard Sign 3 Protect our Aquifer 

Last year the City of Rio Rancho SWPP_2-22-2017, Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) issued a report that brought stakeholders together to give citizens an overview of the characteristics and concerns facing the City of Rio Rancho drinking water supply. 

Rio Rancho started an oil and gas ordinance in 2016 but, from what we are able to understand from local government, it was put on hold.

A Sandoval County oil and gas ordinance was being proposed at the time.  Perhaps the City Government was waiting to see if the County Ordinance was going to protect the drinking water wells and the potential groundwater drinking water sources in the Rio Rancho Estates area, the source of most of the water supply for Rio Rancho.  However, the proposed county ordinance was inadequate and was eventually voted down by its own board 4-1.

Our residents’ committee is well aware of the cost of water for homes and businesses and knows that the city’s current policies pass the costs onto residents because of antiquated and unsustainable policies

Rio Rancho Estates Masterplan This is the County Plan

Common Ground Community Trust comments on the City of RR ordinance Comments Draft 1 that was proposed and postponed.

The litany of concerns of Fracking the Rio Rancho Estates Region and the City of Rancho included was when Commissioner Holden Rhodes was the county commissioner determined to come forward and stand up to protect the aquifer and by publicizing the impacts to the drinking water and the need for protection in the Albuquerque Basin. According to an email communication between NM Tech Energy Policy Advisor Mr. Fine with OCD, Dr. Fine knew when Sandridge Came to town that drilling the upper Albuquerque Basin posed significant risks to for seismic activity trigger thermal concerns of the Nascimento Rift (aka Rio Grande Rift)  the super volcano of the Jemez Caldera.

A group of Citizens from the Placitas Area was able to have a hydrologist that worked in the oil and gas industry come forward and educate the County Commissioners as to the impacts of drilling to the Drinking Water. But despite this, the County commissioners were trying to hedge their bets to pass Permit-By-Rule Ordinance version of the Sandoval County “No Protections” Ordinance.

The “Permit-by-Rule” best policies approach is a Scott Pruitt device that is allowing the hollowing out of EPA regulations and rules that will cause widespread health and safety risks to the public. These impacts will cause a detrimental effect on the local economies by passing clean up and higher taxes on to the citizens while skyrocketing healthcare costs and affordability for the respiratory and cancers that the O&G industry bring with it.  The push from the oil and gas industry, Thrust Energy, EMRND and OCD Divisions as well as NM TECH supported, wrote and edited the ordinance with the planning, Director Mike Springfield. They followed the ‘Pruit Precedent’ at NM agencies EMRND/OCD and actually convincing the county commissioners and planning into accepting the poisoning of the Rio Rancho water supply and air as inevitable and allow it to be rubber-stamped. There is an email that illustrates OCD Director directing County staff to accept or reject certain terms or avenues on which to build the ordinance.  There are many examples like this that came to light in the process.  Despite knowing the high consequences and likely impacts they were all willing to sell out the water supply and public’s health and safety. The County Commissioners kept the 200 citizens in the Chambers until 1:30 am including the Governors of several Pueblos and Tribal leaders. It was only through public pressure did the Commissioners decide against the ordinance.

Where were the Elected officials and what were they doing to protect Rio Rancho’s Water Supply while all this was happening?

County Commissioner Heil is also the Planning and Zoning Chair for the City of Rio Rancho? and he admitted in the County Meeting that his own amendments that he suggested were in inadequate and voted against his own ordinance.

So what now?

Facts on Rio Rancho Water


What Rio Rancho Residents can do


When are the next Rio Rancho meetings

Regarding Rio Rancho Water permits

Logan, Linda M.

Geohydrologic Study of Three Proposed Wells Located at the Intel Corporation Site Rio Rancho, New Mexico, RG-57125, RG-57125-S, RG-57125-S-2, March 1994, SPD-94-1

Hydrologic Evaluation of Effects on the Rio Grande in The Albuquerque Area, Bernalillo County, New Mexico Due to Ground Water Withdrawal P.G. Corporation RG-57917, May 1997, TDH-97-3

Evaluation of Effects on Rio Grande Streamflows Due to Proposed Transfer of Surface Water Rights in Val Verde, Socorro County, to Ground Water in Rio Rancho, Sandoval County, New Mexico; Declaration Numbers 04246 through 04255 into RG-57125 et al, July 1997, HBR-97-4

Evaluation of Effects Due to Applications Filed by the New Mexico American Water Company – Township 1N, Range 36E, §§3, 9, 15 – Curry County Under-ground Water Basin, Curry County, New Mexico, January 1998, TDH-98-1

Logan, Linda M. and Musharrafieh, Ghassan

Interim Report of Hydrologic Effects Due to Rio Rancho’s Proposed Diversions from RG-6745 through RG-6745-S-34, Sandoval County, New Mexico, Interim Hydrology Bureau Report, May 1999

Impacts Due to Rio Rancho’s Proposed Diversion Alternatives on the Middle Rio Grande Basin Under Permit RG-6754 through RG-6754-S-34, December 2000, TDH-00-004 

Numerical Simulation of Groundwater flow for Water rights Administration in the Curry and Portales Valley Underground Water Basins, New Mexico , Report TDH-99-2, March 1999

Impacts Due to the Proposed Rio Rancho Diversions on the Middle Rio Grande Basin, Office of the State Engineer, Hydrology Bureau Report, May 2000