Eight years after it began, the Law Center and our client, the Rio Bonito Preserve, closed a case that will help keep water in the beautiful Rio Bonito, which flows through Lincoln County.
At issue was a water rights transfer proposed by the Village of Ruidoso. The case was litigated extensively under private attorney Ed Newville. Ed transitioned it to NMELC Staff Attorney Bruce Frederick, who worked on the case for four months before it went into five years of unsuccessful settlement negotiations. During the course of the case, the Bureau of Land Management commissioned an extensive hydrological model of the Upper Hondo water basin; that model raised serious questions about potential impairment of the Rio Bonito, Hondo River and the Snowy River Cave.
In January of 2015, Law Center Attorney Jon Block took over the case. After mapping out strategy with Jon, and under Jon’s continuing direction, our client, represented by its President Reginald Wade Richey, initiated a series of lawyer-free meetings among his organization, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Village of Ruidoso (the applicant). See case page.
Following Jon’s strategy throughout the course of these meetings, Mr. Richey was ultimately about to get the Village of Ruidoso to withdraw the application, once it confronted the financial and engineering impossibility of the project. The strategy also included having Rio Bonito propose that the Village of Ruidoso engage in a regional water planning process. This, in the end, the Village also accepted, making possible the prospect that there will be a regional solution to the water needs of the entire county that will protect previous resources like the Rio Bonito.
Rio Bonito Preserve’s President Reginald Richey, said, at the end of this lengthy process, “Our small group is forever grateful to the Law Center for representing us in these important issues and know that without the legal guidance provided by Ed, Bruce and Jon, our advocacy on behalf of the Rio Bonito would likely have gone unheard.”