developers, seeking to sell water to the city of Alamogordo, managed to
raise some hackles during the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce water
committee meeting Monday.
Mickey Samuell Jr., who is developing a community and race track just
north of Tularosa, and Randy Rabon, co-owner of Mesa Verde Ranch, which
is developing two new communities west of Alamogordo, had a chance to
present their water offers at the meeting.
Samuell, who lives in Arizona, was not able to come to Alamogordo for
the meeting. He sent an extensive letter to be read at the event,
presenting his offers and opinions to Alamogordo.
Samuell's Champion Farm, one mile north of Tularosa, controls just
under 3,000 acre feet of water, varying from 1,500 total dissolved
solids to 2,600 TDS in quality. Alamogordo's standard quality is 800
Samuell's letter said his project's projected sales price for treating
water to meet Alamogordo standards or better will run between $2 and
$2.50 per 100 gallons. This price is based upon sales of 1 million
gallons a day or more.
The treatment plant Samuell proposes would also have the capacity to expand to 3 million gallons per day.
The Bonito Lake pipeline is within a mile of the proposed treatment plant site
on Bookout Road, which could save Alamogordo water delivery costs, Samuell's letter said.
"It will be Alamogordo's RKatrina,'' Samuell's letter stated, if the
city's current water plans fall through and the city is left high and
He pointed out 60 percent of all water in the United States is provided by the private sector.
"Some 400,000 Californians, with money, are leaving every year,"
Samuell said in the letter. "For you to compete for this huge
relocation bonanza you must solve your water problems now."
Alamogordo Mayor Don Carroll responded to Samuell's letter, saying it
was the most information the city had received from the developer.
"This is more information than we've ever gotten about TDS and
amounts," Carroll said. "I think we have been and are interested in
discussing this as one of the options."
City Manager Pat McCourt added if the rain continues, relatively normal conditions could return to the basin.
"There will be an abundance," he said.
"That abundance of water would only last until the next drought," committee co-chairman Jerry Johnson replied.
McCourt said the city needed to increase its mix of water resources so
in wet times surface water resources could be used more, and in the dry
times ground water would be available.
Referring to Samuell's letter, McCourt said as of the August water
committee meeting, Samuell had not even applied to make the conversion
from agricultural water to domestic use water on his Tularosa property.
County Commissioner Doug Moore added it is questionable such a conversion can even be made in this case.
A discussion ensued on the details of whether Samuell's water source
could be used for city water and if it could, what percentage the state
engineer would allow.
"When everybody gets on board, anything can happen," said committee
member Rick Warnock. "But we can't do it by being negative. We are here
to create an equitable sustainable water program."
Warnock was upset at the immediate attack on Samuell's plan and the nitpicking nature of the response to it.
City Commissioner Ron Griggs took the floor to support the city, saying
officials hadn't heard the numbers in Samuell's plans and haven't had
the opportunity to evaluate it.
So then it was Randy Rabon's turn.
Rabon talked about the new developments his company is planning on the
west side of the Charlie T. Lee Memorial by-pass. The developments are
under the umbrella of a company called The Heritage Group.
The Rabon's wanted to make sure whatever developments came from their plans would have sufficient water resources.
They have offered the city an extensive plan to provide water to the city for its use.
Already approved for a variety of uses are two well fields the Rabon's
have. Well field No. 1 will have 11 wells and produce 820 acre-feet of
water. Well field No. 2 will have four wells and produce 150 acre-feet
The Wells have been approved by the state engineer's office for
domestic, livestock, irrigation, municipal, industrial, and commercial
use, Rabon said. Well field No. 1 has an estimated blended TDS of 1,200
and Well field No. 2 has an estimated TDS of 2,000. If Alamogordo were
to make a deal to purchase water from the Rabon's project it would be
responsible for bringing the total dissolved solids down to the 800
"The development of this water is not going to be cheap," Rabon told
the committee. The ballpark estimate to develop the wells and system
would be $12,528,294. But there are large variables involved.
The options to the city as proposed by Mesa Verde Ranch, Rabon said, are for either leasing or selling the water rights.
"Alamogordo has an option it hasn't had in the past," Rabon said. "We
want to make sure we don't run into problems with our subdivisions that
is hampered by lack of water."
Rabon said his company is now at a point where it can start talking
about what to do with its water but is not currently in a bind.
"We have not determined the sale price of the water," he said.
Aubry Dunn told the committee he thinks the city should go into the
negotiation now because currently, with the rains and water available,
Alamogordo has the negotiating power. If the city waits until it's dry
and really needs the water, the developers will have the advantage.