New rules proposed for NM well drilling

William Thompson

The Office of the State Engineer has made available on its web site eight pages of proposed well drilling rules. The proposed rules pertain to licensing of well drillers and specifications for wells throughout New Mexico.

In a press release the state engineer’s office said a public hearing on the proposed rules will take place in early 2005.
“We encourage suggestions for improvement of this draft, which will be helpful in revising these proposed rules and regulations. Revisions were necessary to help protect the environment as well as to protect the public who may need to hire a well driller.”

Proposed changes to the rules and regulations, which were last updated in 1983, would require all well drillers to take state exams. New well drillers would have to pass the National Ground Water Exam and the New Mexico General Drilling Exam in order to be licensed. Current well drillers would be given a four-year period in which to take the exams. All well drillers would also have to complete eight hours of continuing education during the two-year license period. A.W. McAfee, owner of McAfee Drilling, said he hopes the Office of the State Engineer will be contacting him and other well drillers to explain the new rules. “I need to find out exactly what needs to be done so I can get it done,” he said McAfee.

Paul Saavedra, assistant water rights director for the state engineer’s office, said well drillers will be notified of the new proposed rules and how to comply with them. “We’ll make every effort to contact every well driller. We’re going to send out a mass mailing,” said Saavedra. “The continuing education requirements should not be difficult to comply with and the drilling exams are offered on a regular basis.”
The new rules would also require all well drillers to have a minimum of $300,000 of liability insurance. Saavedra said the new rules would also require that any well drilled in New Mexico would have to be drilled by a licensed driller. There are currently drilling areas in New Mexico that do not require a licensed well driller.

The proposed rules can be viewed and downloaded at the state engineer’s web site at:
Written comments can either be e-mailed to : or mailed to:

Office of the State Engineer
Attn: Paul Wells
PO Box 25102
Santa Fe, NM 87504
The state engineer’s public information officer, Karin Stangl, can be reached at 1-505-827-6139.