2015 Policy Priorities

Our Water Policy Priorities

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Advance an inclusive, productive and well-utilized state and regional water planning process.

  • Advocate stable funding for water planning, at or above last year’s appropriation levels, and with the future goal of increased water planning staff at the NM Interstate Stream Commission (ISC). (state budget)
  • Urge the development of a future forum and/or white paper comparing the water planning process in New Mexico to that of other states. (HJM 6-Nuñez)
  • Propose modest updates to the regional water planning template. (administration)

Scientific Water Research

Support legislation and funding for the NM Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI). (SB 156-Papen)

  • Develop and sustain a statewide water assessment.
  • Research water resiliency, particularly during times of scarcity.
  • Research potential brackish water development, including aquifer characterization.
  • Research produced and reused water sources.

Watershed Restoration

Protect and sustain water supply by preventing catastrophic fires through the appropriate thinning of state and federal forests.

  • Support passage of the Forest and Watershed Restoration Act (HB38-Bandy/Wirth)
  • Continue state funding for watershed restoration (state budget)

Water Rights

Advance community-driven solutions to water shortages while continuing the adjudication process.

  • Collaborate with the ISC and the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) to research and document best practices for shortage-sharing agreements, including their roles in the Active Water Resource Management (AWRM) program. (HJM 6-Nuñez)
  • Endorse existing funding levels for the Litigation and Adjudication Program of the OSE. (state budget)

Water Funding

Improve New Mexico’s water funding process.

  • Support the efforts of the Water Infrastructure Team, led by the NM Environment Department (NMED), while encouraging continued work and development of a report of recommendations and/or changes to administrative practices regarding funding integration. (administration)
  • Call for the establishment of a uniform application for water funding. (HJM 6 Nuñez)
  • Support the establishment of staff positions within the NMED for up to two “water navigators” to improve coordination between existing grant programs and to support small and mid-sized communities in pursuing these funding sources. (state budget)
  • Support stable funding for the Emergency Water Fund, with the understanding that unused dollars would continue to revert to the general fund. (state budget)
  • Advance the use of public-private partnerships, thus diversifying potential funding sources for water and watershed projects.

Legal Research

Support resources for the UNM Utton Center to take the following actions. (state budget)

  • Research legal barriers to aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), including potential impacts on inter-state stream compacts, by drawing on the expertise of the ISC, Attorney General’s office, and practices of neighboring states.
  • Update and expand existing legal analyses on brackish water, including administrative authority and impacts on existing water rights.
  • Investigate and clarify common misconceptions regarding the “use it or lose it ” concept associated with water rights.
  • Research potential improvements to future or current adjudication processes, building on recommendations in the 2009 UNM law school report.

Future Research

Advocate for future work. (HJM 6-Nuñez)

  • Call for a future forum on aquifer storage and recovery options, building on proposed legal analysis above.
  • Call for a future forum on habitats, bringing business and environmental concerns together, to prevent endangered species conflicts.

Water Protection

Advance water conservation and protection of groundwater.

  • Educate students regarding water conservation. (SB197-Padilla)
  • Incentivize household water conservation. (HB 64-Trujillo/Wirth)
  • Support adequate staffing for the NMED to avoid future contamination and manage existing problems. (state budget)

Produced Water

Support the development of rules and regulations that safely enable and encourage the use and re-use of produced water in oil and gas extraction. (administration)

Our Town Hall

In April 2014, we convened a statewide deliberation on water policy. The two-day event was attended by over 300 people from 31 counties, representing urban, rural, and tribal interests. The event produced a set of consensus recommendations addressing:

  • Water planning (regional and state)
  • Watersheds and ecosystems (including forest thinning)
  • Legal issues (shortage sharing, water rights)
  • New sources of water (brackish, produced, and recovered)
  • Water funding
  • Conservation and water quality

  • Town Hall 40-Water: Recommendations Town Hall 40-Water: Recommendations
    Primer on water issues in New Mexico, prepared for the 2014 statewide town hall on water   14-May-2014
  • Please refer to the Town Hall 40-Water: Recommendations document for more details on each recommendation and to see how they correspond to the legislation that we are supporting.

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