The New Mexico State Land Office announced that it will be halting the practice of allowing fresh water to be pumped from state trust land and sold for use in oil and gas development.
Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard detailed the shift in policy in a letter to companies that hold easements that grant access to trust land for pumping fresh water. Under the change, existing easements will not be renewed once they expire, and no new easements will be issued.
She pointed to the scarcity of fresh water resources in New Mexico, saying the policy is aimed at encouraging the industry to use recycled water or produced water, which is wastewater that result from oil and gas operations.
The agency cited data reported by companies to FracFocus, a national registry, that indicated nearly 14.5 billion gallons of water were used for overall production in New Mexico in 2019, with recycled or produced water making up only a fraction of the total use.