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Article XVI, New Mexico Constitution

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New Mexico Constitution
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Article XVI of the New Mexico Constitution is entitled Irrigation and Water Rights and consists of six sections.

Section 1

Text of Section 1:

Existing Water Rights Confirmed

All existing rights to the use of any waters in this state for any useful or beneficial purpose are hereby recognized and confirmed.[1]

Section 2

Text of Section 2:

Appropriation of Water

The unappropriated water of every natural stream, perennial or torrential, within the state of New Mexico, is hereby declared to belong to the public and to be subject to appropriation for beneficial use, in accordance with the laws of the state. Priority of appropriation shall give the better right.[1]

Section 3

Text of Section 3:

Beneficial Use of Water

Beneficial use shall be the basis, the measure and the limit of the right to the use of water.[1]

Section 4

Text of Section 4:

Drainage Districts and Systems

The legislature is authorized to provide by law for the organization and operation of drainage districts and systems.[1]

Section 5

Text of Section 5:

Appeals in Matters Relating to Water Rights

In any appeal to the district court from the decision, act or refusal to act of any state executive officer or body in matters relating to water rights, the proceeding upon appeal shall be de novo as cases originally docketed in the district court unless otherwise provided by law.[1]


  • Added on November 7, 1967.

Section 6

Text of Section 6:

Water Trust Fund

A. The "water trust fund" is created in the state treasury to conserve and protect the water resources of New Mexico and to ensure that New Mexico has the water it needs for a strong and vibrant future. The purpose of the fund shall be to secure a supply of clean and safe water for New Mexico’s residents. The fund shall consist of money appropriated, donated or otherwise accrued to the fund. Money in the fund shall be invested by the state investment officer as land grant permanent funds are invested, and there shall be strict accountability and oversight measures as provided by the state investment council to ensure appropriate safety of and return on investments. Earnings from investment of the fund shall be credited to the fund. Money in the fund shall not revert or be expended for any purpose, but an annual distribution shall be made to the water project fund, which shall be used only to support critically needed projects that preserve and protect New Mexico's water supply and is in accordance with Subsection B of this section.

B. On July 1, 2008 and each fiscal year thereafter, an annual distribution shall be made from the water trust fund pursuant to law, and that distribution shall then be appropriated by the legislature only for water projects consistent with a state water plan and as otherwise provided by law.[1]


  • Added on November 7, 2006.

See also

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