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Legal Department


Adjudications determine who owns what water rights and in what amount. They are required by statute. The purpose of adjudication is to obtain a judicial determination and definition of water rights within each stream system or underground basin so that the State Engineer may effectively perform water rights administration and meet New Mexico’s interstate stream obligations.

The State Engineer is responsible for active adjudications, many of which have separate sections, currently underway in federal and state courts in New Mexico.

About 20 percent of the state has been adjudicated. More than 50 percent of the state has adjudications in progress.

Active Cases

Rule 71.3

The first stage of the adjudication process is the completion of the hydrographic survey. During this process, Hydrographic Survey Bureau and the Litigation and Adjudication Program staff gather all of the information used to legally describe a water right and record it in the report and associated maps filed with the court.

Hydrographic Surveys - Maps and Reports