New Mexico Impairment Analysis (19-NM-j)
19-NM-b, then the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (NMOSE) and the Oil Conservation Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (NMOCD) must examine the project specifications to determine whether existing groundwater rights will be impaired by the proposed diversion and reinjection of groundwater for a geothermal project. NMOSE will request specific information from the developer to assist in making this determination.
Impairment Analysis Process
19-NM-j.1 – Provide all Relevant Information about the Geothermal Reservoir and Project Specifications
NMOCD and the developer must provide NMOSE with all relevant information about the geothermal reservoir and project specifications to assist with the Impairment Analysis.
19-NM-j.2 – Commence Operations
The developer may commence power plant operations once NMOCD has provided all necessary information to NMOSE.
19-NM-j.3 – Prepare Impairment Analysis
NMOSE will prepare the Impairment Analysis based on the information provided by NMOCD and the developer. When determining impairment, the NMOSE may analyze the following information:
- A description of the proposed diversion and reinjection of groundwater for the geothermal project;
- A description of the geologic unit(s) from which the geothermal resource is to be pumped and re-injected, and a description of geologic units that are hydrologically connected to it;
- A description of geologic structures in the area that may affect groundwater flow, including fractures, faults, and folds;
- A description of aquifer properties for the geologic units of interest in the area;
- A description of the conceptual understanding of flows into and out of the project area and how the conceptual model was developed;
- Groundwater rights sharing the same groundwater source as the geothermal project that may be impacted by the proposed project operations;
- A description of the water levels in the “geothermal” aquifer and the hydrologically-connected aquifers; and
- A description of the analytical or numerical model to be used to evaluate the hydrologic effects of the application.
19-NM-j.4 – Does NMOSE Determine there will be Impairment of Existing Groundwater Rights?
NMOSE will determine whether there will be impairment of existing groundwater rights based on the information provided by the developer and NMOCD. If NMOSE determines that there will be impairment of existing groundwater rights, then the developer will be required to establish a water replacement plan. If NMOSE determines that existing groundwater rights will not be impaired, then the developer may continue with the project under current specifications.
19-NM-j.5 – Application for Approval of Replacement Plan
If NMOSE determines that existing groundwater rights will be impaired by the project, then the developer must develop a Water Replacement Plan.
The application for approval of a Water Replacement Plan must contain the following information:
- The name and address of the developer;
- The location, amount, and priority date of the developer’s existing administrable water right;
- Each source of replacement water and the amount of historic consumptive use related to the water right that is the source of replacement water, to be established by documentation satisfactory to NMOSE;
- An estimate of the amount of water to be diverted by the developer;
- A map acceptable to NMOSE showing the source and point of diversion of the replacement water and the location of the proposed use;
- A copy of an agreement between the developer and the owner of water to be used as replacement water, or other documentation demonstrating to NMOSE’s satisfaction that the developer has a legal entitlement to a source of water to be used as replacement water;
- The expected duration of the plan; and
- Any other information that NMOSE deems necessary. NMAC 184.108.40.206.
19-NM-j.6 – Is the Replacement Plan Approved?
NMOSE may approve or deny any Water Replacement Plan. NMOSE must hear any objections to the Water Replacement Plan. NMOSE may establish conditions for Replacement Plan approval based on valid objections.
19-NM-j.7 – Provide Notice of Replacement Plan Approval
NMOSE is required to publish public notice of any approved Replacement Plan within 30 days of approval. NMAC 220.127.116.11.
19-NM-j.8 – No Replacement Plan Needed; Continue with Project
If NMOSE determines that existing groundwater rights will not be impaired, then the developer may continue with the project without a Water Replacement Plan.
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