Sunday, March 31, 2013


There's a LOT OF REASONS why the
proposal by Augustin Plains Ranch LLC
is STUPID.  Here are a few.
1.  The project is unproven science in action.
There is serious disagreement by almost
 everyone who's looked this over about how
much water is actually in the aquifer,
and what the effects of pumping 54,000
acre feet of water per year would be.
The very real possibility that the Rio Grande
and Gila Rivers would be significantly,
 adversely, affected doesn't seem to phase
 the applicants, Augustin Plains Ranch LLC.
Neither does the probability that everyone's
wells in the area would go dry.
The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and
Mineral Resources is currently conducting
reasearch on the Rio Grande connection
to the aquifer.  Their "San Agustin and
Alamosa Creek Study" will be finished in
December of 2014.
2. The project is all about money, period.
The worth of the water - this volume, for up
to 300 years - is absolutely incredible.  You are
literally talking billions and billions, and it's all
tied to GROWTH, growth for Albuquerque,
Rio Rancho, maybe Santa Fe,
 and wherever else developers and politicians decide 
will be blessed with more water - for what?
Growth of what?  For what?

 More of the mess they can't get a handle on now? 
More stripmalls?  More neighborhoods
that require grills and bars on windows and
 doors, or if you're rich enough you park the
family and pets in a "gated community," so much safer -
 but either way, people look out at the world
 from the eye of an urban or suburban prisoner,
because New Mexico IS dangerous now.
It didn't used to be, well, not much, but it is now.

So let's grow...with no thought beyond a
fast buck and a new lease on
The Land of Enchantment!

More trash food....more teenage pregnancies....
more gang violence....more police shootings....
more stuff, and more stuff, that isn't being
at all adequately addressed now,
 and sure as hell will never be dealt with
intelligently if money rules the game.
You have to love people more than money.

We can't allow decisions about water to be
 made on the basis of cash (read: GROWTH).
It's unethical; it's unconstitutional,
(the words of an attorney, not a PR flack).
3.  The project is inherently NUTS.
The very idea that somehow foreigners could
 get their hands on this much water, and then
 sell it back to us, the citizens of New Mexico,
when we technically OWN the water according
 to LAW, is too bizarre for words.
This is a Ripley's Believe It Or Not episode.
4.  It adds to the abysmal level of corruption.
New Mexico's report card is dismal
when it comes to honesty and ethics among
office holders and state officials alike.  All
you have to do is look at the past of the LLC
Project Director, Michel Jichlinski, to see
possible problems here.  He was the "Boss" at
a company that got hit with the largest fine
 ever for a war-time contractor - they stole
 millions of tax dollars through fraud, bribery,
accounting trickery, etc.  This guy lies openly
in "Letters to the Editor" concerning the issue
before us.  It's all on the blog.
Things are bad enough here already - we
don't need any additional ethical sewage.
This guy knows a lot about bribery, and worse.
5.  Foreign ownership of our water is stupid.
Water is life!  We simply cannot allow a
bunch of shadowy corporate thugs to get
their hands on the pink slip for the agua.
  No one in their right mind would let this pass.
Jichlinski got his degree from the
Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Do you think the Israelis would allow a
scheme like this on their soil?
You'd probably be looking down the barrel of
 an Uzi if you even suggested the idea.

In Israel, a land owner DOES NOT OWN
the water beneath his land, and is not free
to speculate in "open-market" realities
with the water - it belongs to the state.
Change the "state" to the "citizens"
and you've got New Mexico.
A foreign corporation/investors group trying to
get their grubby hands on water in Israel?
Best outcome: taken to the airport.
Worst outcome: stupidity brings its own rewards.
6.  You don't make big deals with unknowns.
The "investors" are headed by a man named
Bruno Modena, along with his son Vittorio.
Their last escapade in the States was a
so-called eco-resort in Maine -
 the details are on the blog -
 it could basically be called an
entirely new form of extortion. 
But almost no one ever saw them.  Lawyers'
offices in New York that no one can ever find,
hidden away, on purpose obviously.
The "investors" hang out overseas it appears.
They just hire more characters here -
 PR flacks, lawyers, managers of various stripes,
 so-called experts - to do their bidding.
You don't go selling off the rights to pump
water that's the equivalent of half of
Albuquerque's thirst each year,
without knowing something about who the
hell is getting this water.
There's no transparency here - no corporate
financial statements, no tax returns, no nada.
People that hide behind corporate veils are
NOT people you want to do business with.
Everything that's known so far is OFF BASE -
you wouldn't sell these people a good dog,
but just maybe a bad one if it was a biter.
There's more if you'll scan the early posts
on the blog - January forward.
7.  This would have horrible ramifications.
No one has ever tried to get their hands on
this volume of water in New Mexico.
They don't parade this fact; they're at least
smart enough to figure that certain realities
don't need to be brought up.  It'd be upsetting.
Let's talk a "partnership" with New Mexico
"stakeholders" is what they hype publically.
They've never shown a business plan.
We have no idea what they're thinking
 about what they'll give us as our portion of
the profits....I'm sure they'll be shrewd.

Their claim is that they have the capital 
 and resources to pull this off -
three to five hundred million bucks
 has been mentioned in various sources,
and that is used as an excuse basically,
 to let them in the door.
We Can Do It.  We're Big. 
 We're International.
Jichlinski is their key on this.
He could probably float the project under
any number of corporate names - he's tied in
to a big batch of multi-national contractors,
 and money boys, none of whom,
you can be damn sure,
 have even the slightest interest
 in what's good for New Mexico,
or America.
This craziness will be popping up all over
the state, if these guys get away with this.
Once you let this kind of evil in the door,
you're almost done for. 
 You'll be fighting the tide for generations,
 and paying the piper. 
International, big-time outfits are watching
what happens with water very closely....
everywhere, but the American Southwest
is a facinating point of reference because of
the severity of the drought and the cash possible
 if you could pull something off....
It's all over the's big MONEY action.
The "comodification" of water is real, it's
happening all over, including here in the States.
Water....they also say it's what the
 future wars will be about, globally, regionally.
How do you think the Old West in Catron
and Socorro Counties will react?
This is a place where some of the
Vanishing West vanished,
and where some of it still lives on.
I'll make you a bet....
I'll bet you a round for the house that....
                                                                                                       "The Tenderfoot"
There's more that could be listed....such as the
serious damage that this could do (is doing)
 to international relations. 
 There's not much use for "foreigners"
in this part of the country  to begin with. 
 If you add on the idea that these guys are basically
 seen as thieves, water thieves....well,
you can see where all this could go....the Colts
and Winchesters and god-only-knows-what
kind of explosives (this is mining country)
will come out in time, and before you know it
 you've got national and international media people
 sniffing all over the place -
 trying to get some background on 
who's who in the water war -
 which is the last thing, the very last thing, 
the Modena's and their co-investors want.
Not all media outfits are bought, and/or sold.
Some really are investigators.
In that sense, for the "investors,"
 it's a Catch 22.
If they get a green light to begin the project,
the violence will probably start right up,
which brings the spotlight of big time media attention.
  And if they got that attention,
which they avoid like a vampire does
 the light of day,
they'd probably either lose the project,
once New Mexicans were AWARE of it,
 or have one devil of a time getting it
to completion.
  There's everything from
 archaeological sites on the pipe route,
any pipe route in this country,
 to "threatened" and "endangered"
 species issues,
to plain orneriness on the part of some,
to even more technical and legal arguments,
that could tie this up for a long, long time.
Or at least that's what logic tells us.
Why do these characters insist on pressing on?
The "good guys" need to remember this:
stay calm.
 The lawsuits could fly
  as fast as the bullets.
Get more money for the legal fund,
get ready to "dig in."
                                                  "Smoke of  a 45"

“Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas,
 went bang in the noonday sun.” 
Kurt Vonnegut
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater  
Update: 9/23
Since this post there have been numerous
"changes" to the approach the foreigners are taking.
 Now they claim they won't drain the aquifer,
but rather catch ALL the precipitation that falls
in their domain, and RECHARGE the aquifer.
Read more about it here:

Saturday, March 23, 2013


"They call it the Gila (pronounced Hee-la)
River by a long and convoluted explanation
(each writer and historian has a version)
whereby an unpronounceable Apache name
was supposedly shortened and corrupted by the
 early Spanish explorers.  The explanation
 doesn't bear repeating here precisely because
it would be long and convoluted.  Also possibly
inaccurate.  The best guess is that the word
"Gila" - like the word "Pecos" in eastern
New Mexico and West Texas, doesn't really
mean anything.  Nevertheless one must approve
of the appellation.  The Apaches were the first
people to really own this part of the world -
nobody's ever owned it in quite such a way -
and to work their name for all this into the
musical Spanish language is appropriate.
Couldn't be nicer really."
M.H. Salmon
Gila Descending
The last free-flowing river in New Mexico,
the Gila, would surely be on the short end if the
 aquifer underneath the San Augustin Plains
 was  tapped for 54,000 acre feet
  of agua per year.
The Gila, and the Rio Grande as well,
are hydrologically connected to the aquifer.
The Gila River is already threatened with
new possible diversions for agriculture and
 more urbanization in southern New Mexico. 
You can read all about it at the
Gila Conservation Coalition website:
Below is a descriptive "overview" of the river
 from the Coalition site.
The Gila Trout is native to the Gila River of New Mexico and
 Arizona, and is a threatened species.  It is like no other with
 cascades of colors that project a golden appearance. These
 trout are very geographically limited, but never-the-less are
 locally common. You can see them at the bottom of creek beds
 competing for food and shelter. They survive on the native
 insect hatches and the occasional unsuspecting grasshopper or
 worm that falls from the riverbank. Their yellow heads and
 black spots are the perfect camouflage for clear bottom creek
 beds and blend rather well amongst the cobblestones bellow.
From the UNM BIOBLOG site
“We must begin thinking like a river
 if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life
 for future generations.”
David Brower

Sunday, March 17, 2013


From "ReWire" -
an online news service that is part of
KCET-TV in Los angeles -
Community Television in Southern California
by Chris Clarke
Posted March 5, 2013
It's a little far afield from the Golden State, but ReWire got an emailed press release last week that piqued our interest. The release, concerning a water pipeline project in New Mexico, made the claim that powering that pipeline with solar and hydroelectric power would make that pipeline "eco-friendly." But something about the release raised our skepticism.
Here's the release's first two paras:
NEW YORK CITY -- As New Mexico's drought and demand-driven water crisis continues to deepen, leaders from around the state are looking hard for viable, long-term solutions to both sustain the state's population growth and protect its fragile natural environment. One of the most promising options, the Augustin Plains Ranch project, was unveiled to the nation for the first time this week at the Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum in New York City.The Augustin Plains Ranch, located in west-central New Mexico, is proposing to develop an eco-friendly, water reclamation and transport project that will pump 54 thousand acre-feet of water out of a massive underground lake and pipe it to communities in need anywhere from Santa Fe to Southern New Mexico. This "green" project will operate under its own electricity produced through hydro and solar power, and will replenish the aquifer over the years with rainwater and snowmelt that is currently being lost to evaporation. It is also expected to create hundreds of permanent jobs for New Mexicans.

As it happens, the Augustin Plains Ranch water project has been in the news for quite some time in New Mexico. As ReWire's pal and Western water maven John Fleck put it in a 2011 article in the Albuquerque Journal, 54,000 acre-feet per year is enough to meet the needs of the City of Albuqerque, and enough to make the current residents of the Augustin Plains area, near Datil, NM, rather nervous:
Those in the central New Mexico ranch country where the water would start its journey, though, fear the project would leave them high and dry.[Rancher Ray] Pittman and his wife, Carol, use a second well to provide water to two ranch houses, three horses, two donkeys, "six or seven cats," one dog and nine goldfish that call one of the stock tanks home. The Pittmans and their neighbors fear the Augustin Plains Ranch water pumping project will dry up the landscape and way of life they hold dear. "People are afraid that this will deplete the aquifer," said Carol Pittman. "We all have wells."
The proposal would "essentially dry up the whole damn basin," said Albuquerque hydrologist Frank Titus. Water would disappear from wells used by people like the Pittmans, said Titus.

The Augustin Plains Ranch project has been through its ups and downs since first proposed in 2007. More than a thousand people wrote formal protests of the project. New Mexico's State Engineer denied the project's application in 2011; when developers Augustin Plains Ranch LLC went to court to ask the Engineer's decision be overturned, the court backed up the Engineer rather resoundingly in 2012.
Also in 2012, Augustin Plains Ranch LLC shifted their story on the project's hydrology to claim that they'd be shipping 54,000 acre-feet of water a year that would otherwise be lost to evaporation, causing Fleck and others to wonder aloud just where they'd heard that story before.
Now, activists at the Catron County Water Coalition are noting with alarm that project proponents seem to be trying to revive the project with better PR -- while concurrently appealing the court's November 2012 decision upholding the State Engineer. The PR sent to media outlets in far-flung places like KCET in Los Angeles would seem to be part of that.
Make no mistake: pumping water is an energy-intensive process, and we need to figure out a way to use renewable energy to do that pumping in the West. We here in California know that better than many: just one of the Department of Water Resources' pumps on the California Aqueduct, the Edmonston Pumping Plant, eats up 835 megawatts of electrical power to pump water up over the Grapevine. Half of the DWR's power consumption has traditionally been fueled by coal-fired plants: though the Department is working to reduce that amount, there's still work to do getting those pumps to run on renewable energy.
So powering a water pipeline's infrastructure with renewable energy is a good idea. But that doesn't make the pipeline "eco-friendly" all by itself. If the pipeline is pumping water out of an unrecharged aquifer to provide city dwellers with a way to water their lawns, it's not going to be "eco-friendly" even if you make it out of recycled hemp.
There's a word for the corporate practice of glossing over potentially destructive ventures with a thin green veneer. It's called "greenwashing." It's pretty prevalent, and as solar power becomes increasingly popular, solar will be used as a way to greenwash projects that might not otherwise pass the muster of public approval.
But we here in California pretty much invented deceptive water politics, Augustin Plains Ranch. We see your Milagro Beanfield War, raise you Chinatown, and call it. You're gonna have to get a lot slicker if you want to persuade us terminally jaded hipsters out here that your Owens Valley Lite isn't a bad deal for the environment: waving a solar panel at us isn't going to cut it.
ReWire is dedicated to covering renewable energy in California. Keep in touch by liking us on Facebook, and help shape our editorial direction by taking this quick survey here.
Here's the press release put out by the PR firm
who now represents the LLC, the Waite Company
of Albuquerque.
KCET is the nation's largest independent
public television station.
Chris Clarke is a natural history writer
and environmental journalist.
Edited from Wikipedia
Greenwashing (a compound word modelled on "whitewash"), or "green sheen,"is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization's aims and policies are environmentally friendly. Whether it is to increase profits or gain political support, greenwashing may be used to manipulate popular opinion to support otherwise questionable aims.
The term greenwashing was coined by New York environmentalist Jay Westervelt in a 1986 essay regarding the hotel industry's practice of placing placards in each room promoting reuse of towels ostensibly to "save the environment." Westerveld noted that, in most cases, little or no effort toward reducing energy waste was being made by these institutions—as evidenced by the lack of cost reduction this practice effected. Westerveld opined that the actual objective of this "green campaign" on the part of many hoteliers was, in fact, increased profit. Westerveld thus labeled this and other outwardly environmentally conscientious acts with a greater, underlying purpose of profit increase as greenwashing.
The term is generally used when significantly more money or time has been spent advertising being green (that is, operating with consideration for the environment), rather than spending resources on environmentally sound practices. This is often portrayed by changing the name or label of a product to evoke the natural environment or nature—for example, putting an image of a forest on a bottle containing harmful chemicals. Environmentalists often use greenwashing to describe the actions of energy companies, which are traditionally the largest polluters.

In the mid 1960s, the environmental movement gained 
momentum. This popularity prompted many companies to
 create a new green image through advertising. Jerry Mander,
 a former Madison advertising executive, called this new form
 of advertising "ecopornography."
There's more, see the full Wikipedia entry here:
"The privatization of water, our core source of survival, in an era when water is becoming more and more scarce does not bode well for inhabitants of planet earth.
Large corporations are using the legal system and advertising systems to strong-arm farmers and citizens in order to take ownership of their land and water.
After privatization, prices for water are always higher, without exception."

But you better believe they're working on it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


At the
held in New York City a couple
of weeks ago, Michel Jichlinski gave a
presentation on the San Augustin project.
This is the same Jichlinski who was the President
and CEO at the Louis Berger Group
when they stole millions of U.S. taxdollars
through fraud, overbilling, bribery, etc.
in Afghanistan.
Now he's HYPING the scheme to heist
54,000 acre feet of water per year from
the aquifer beneath the San Augustin Plains
in west-central New Mexico.
He calls himself the "Project Director."
We have two other posts on the blog
 about this guy.  It's all bad news.
The Forum is literally called a
and hypes projects of all types,  BIG ONES, and contractors,
and "experts," and general PR for pet projects -
  to people who BANKROLL this kind of madness,
and other lost souls who think they actually
NEED any of this action....
Like maybe the Third World,
or Detroit,
or even New Mexico!
It's all about money, period.
They claimed there was $270 billion in
Project Value "on the table," as they say.
I wonder what value they put on
the San Augustin Project?

New Mexicans should tell Jichlinski and
the foreigners he represents to go.
These guys are foreign multi-national operatives,
 with a horrible track record.
The "FORUM" probably had lots more just
like Jichlinski and his cronies.
The horrible thing is - he was probably
raising money as well as showing off.
It's all extremely un-American. 
Our politicians should get with it - and help
get rid of this sorry mess out on the Plains -
 before they get identified as being compadres
to this bunch of thieves - ladrones -
working against New Mexicans' interests.
They'll get identified as working for the enemy.
 The water belongs to the citizens of the state -
Don't let New Mexico's slogan end up being:
"La Tierra de Los Pendejos,"
The Land of the Stupid Ones.
Because we WILL have been STUPID
if we let this happen.  Believe it.
You could drop the Enchantment, 
and put on the dunce's hat.
There's nothing enchanting about letting
a bunch of money-grubbing
foreign corporate "operatives"
get their hands on our most precious
resource - folks, WATER IS LIFE!
Here's the promo page for the event,
sponsored by CG/LA Infrastructure.
The San Augustin project got recognition
for being on the "STRATEGIC 100" list - 
the "best of the best" of global projects -
involving WATER and infrastructure.
Of course, the list is compiled,
and the recognition 
(and nice plaque, I would assume),
are awarded, by CG/LA,
sponsor of the event, 
where Michel is officially an
It's like recognizing your daughter for cuteness.
Boy, this "networking" thing really works,
Below is the press release about it all
 from The Waite Company,
the latest PR flack for the LLC,
very New Mexico politically connected,
very intertwined with so-called
 powers-that-be, or would-like-to-be's.
But not too smart necessarily -
 they've boosted a bunch of
political flotsam and jetsum - some in,
some out - all worthless, all buyable probably.
I guess old Tom Carroll, the LLC's last PR boy,
 just couldn't cut it.  Too bad.
Did you get paid Tom???  I hope so.
So many people have had problems with
these guys over's sad, real sad.
But, read about how they plan to go further.
It's fascinating!
It all revolves around the
State Water Engineer, Scott Verhines,
a former colleague of Michel's in D.C.,
(colleague is Verhines' term for his buddy).
Anyhow, Michel is quite the little "presenter!"
He's also a foreign corporate thug who
was the "BOSS" at the Louis Berger Group
when they stole millions and millions
of your taxpayer dollars.
He lies, and cheats, and is as shameless
as the Whore of Babylon.
Here's the press release -
“Once you place that crown of liar on your
 head, you can take it off again,
 but it leaves a stain for all time.”    
Terry Goodkind   
Soul of the Fire