Representative Steve Pearce is reintroducing a bill that would allow the Mescalero Apache tribe in Southern New Mexico to lease their unused excess water. If passed, the legislation could give surrounding communities access to some much needed water resources.
The Mescalero Apache Tribe Leasing Authorization Act would allow the tribe to lease their water rights for up to 99 years. Tribal President Frederick Chino says that would allow the tribe to better manage their water and allow them to work with neighboring communities on water usage.
Ruidoso Mayor Ray Alborn says the passage of the bill is important to his community because it could provide them a more secure water supply. "Water is an ongoing problem," he explained, "And when we had the fire we lost our surface water so now we're down to well water. And we've got some wells that are contaminated with silt and debris. So we need help, we need water, we're thirsty."
The bill was reintroduced to Congress last week with bipartisan support and has been assigned to the House Natural Resources Committee.