Desal Free-For-All

From today’s Albuquerque Journal*, a thoughtful discussion of the risks posed by the current lack of regulation of desalination of deep brackish groundwater in New Mexico. The backstory is significant interest in drilling into deep aquifers around Albuquerque, bringing up brackish fossil groundwater, cleaning it up and using it to support continued growth that might not otherwise be possible with with current surface water and clean groundwater supplies:

If miles of new subdivisions are made possible by desalinated water, what will sustain those subdivisions if the water runs out?

Perhaps more disturbing of all, however, is the possibility that pumping the deep water could drain fresh-water aquifers above or contaminate existing supplies.

The West’s entire water-law tradition argues against unregulated, unlimited access by new claimants.

* Just to be clear, because there is often confusion on this point. I do cover water for the Journal, but did not write this editorial. The editorial page staff is separate from the news staff.