New Mexico First Blog

Statewide water town hall produces wide-ranging platform of policy reform

Recommendations address planning, water rights, storm-water and wastewater reuse, watersheds, brackish water, financing and other changes New Mexicans want a balanced water policy that plans for future shortages, expands water storage and reuse, addresses legal issues, and protects environmental resources. They want to explore the potential of cleaning up brackish water (non-potable, highly salty water) in our aquifers. They also identified potential improvements to the ways the state finances water projects.

These recommendations and others resulted from a New Mexico First statewide town hall attended by over 300 people and held in Albuquerque April 15-16.  The meeting, entitled “A Town Hall on Water Planning, Development and Use,” brought together people from 31 New Mexico counties. Participants came from small, medium, and large towns and included business leaders, industrial water users, environmental advocates, researchers, municipal water planners, farmers and ranchers, government professionals, elected officials and students.

“We had a remarkable group of committed citizens at the water town hall,” said Heather Balas, president of New Mexico First. “They addressed the topic in an integrated way – tackling environmental, industrial, municipal and research issues all together.

A full report on the town hall will be released in two weeks, but examples of the strategies identified include:

  • Implement long term comprehensive watershed scale restoration projects to foster healthy ecosystem function and resilience, including wildfire protection plans.
  • Improve the state and regional planning process, including dedicated funding, consistent data across regions, and the best available science on current and future water supply.
  • Develop emergency plans and sharing agreements to address allocation of water during times of shortage.
  • Fund and initiate new water supply and storage projects such as aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), reclaimed wastewater, surface water storage, storm water capture and water delivery enhancement.
  • Improve the funding process for water investments, including better coordination among funders and improved leveraging of revolving loan programs, grants, user fees and federal funds.
  • Clarify the processes for use of brackish water, as well as use and re-use of produced water (non-potable water used in oil and gas drilling).
  • Increase the efficiency, timeliness and fairness of the adjudication process, while also strengthening the water market through clear and fair water right transfer policies.
The town hall recommendations will be advocated to state and local leaders by an implementation team comprised of volunteers from the event and will be led by former State Engineer John D’Antonio.  A full report on the results of the town hall will be released in about two weeks and posted at

The town hall is convened by New Mexico First, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy organization that engages people in important issues facing their state or community. Established in 1986, NM First offers unique town halls and forums that create recommendations for policymakers and the public. New Mexico First also produces nonpartisan reports on critical issues facing the state. These reports on topics like water, education, healthcare, economic development, and energy are available at

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Anonymous Commented on 17-Apr-2014 10:19 AM

Atlantis Technologies has the lastest technology in water treatment plants-TDS, arsenic, uranium, fluorides, etc. Rental/lease programs. 30 gallons to 1000 gallons per minute.. Located in New Mexico.

Anonymous Commented on 17-Apr-2014 10:23 AM

Protecting our critical water infrastructure such as the watersheds in our state from extreme devastating fires through proper forest management will also create jobs and economic activity in areas of our state where unemoloyment is highest...the recomendations of the Townhall look comprehenisve and totally on point...

Anonymous Commented on 17-Apr-2014 10:26 AM

Well done!

Anonymous Commented on 17-Apr-2014 11:01 AM

Three cheers to New Mexico First for running a first-rate town hall. These recommendations are thoughtful, research-based, and have potential for helping New Mexico move forward with short and long-range water planning.

Anonymous Commented on 17-Apr-2014 11:57 AM

I appreciate the opportunity to be involved with the NM First Water Town Hall. I do wish you would hold the Water Town Halls no more than 4 years apart and expand them to a 3 day function. The additional day would give participants a little more background training/ discussion and go over rules of discussion by illustration. It was enjoyable to meet new people from around the state. I also believe the was a great project for people to understand different points of view from other segments of our community.
Thank you again for the opportunity to be involved.

Anonymous Commented on 17-Apr-2014 04:43 PM

I know that people attending the Town Hall represented opposite sides of at least one issue of high interest to the four most southwesterly counties of New Mexico: Grant, Luna, Hidalgo and Catron. I refer, of course, to the issue of the possible diversion of up to 140,000 acre feet per decade of water from our last free flowing river, the beautiful Gila. I would be interested in learning more about whether the Town Hall explored this and other controversial issues. Thanks to NM First for all its work for our state.

Anonymous Commented on 17-Apr-2014 05:55 PM

I suggest exploring the issue of Home Owners Associations that mandate high-water turf for residents. California, Texas and Colorado have all passed legislation banning HOA's from requiring homeowners to allocate portions of their lawn to water-thirsty grass. This needs to be done in NM as well.

Anonymous Commented on 18-Apr-2014 12:05 PM

I also appreciated the opportunity to participate in the Town Hall on this vital topic. My one regret was that the participants seemed so focused on the present that none of the proposed recommendations called for strategic planning covering the next 30-years to plan for development of future infrastructure (which everyone knows takes about that long to get in place) based on newly emerging technologies for the processing of brackish water. Other than that, I think it was a great Town Hall and congratulate NM First for an excellent job well done!.

Anonymous Commented on 18-Apr-2014 01:47 PM

My thanks to everyone in my discussion group (Water Rights). I learned a lot and have gained much insight into the concerns and feelings of other people and groups in other areas of the state. Perhaps the thing that was most important was that I learned how severe the water shortage is throughout the whole state. I now understand that this is more than serious - we have a looming emergency situation facing us all. In spite of this, all of these groups are trying to respect each other's rights, needs and viewpoints and work with each other for the common good. Benjamin Franklin said “When the well is dry we know the value of water.” The well is going dry. I am pleased to see us taking the problem seriously and working together to come up with solutions.

Anonymous Commented on 04-Jun-2015 08:58 PM

Require Cameras in Police Vehicles and on Officer's clothing to be ON and operable at all time when they are on duty. Make Officers punishment " mandatory termination" if a death occurs and their Cameras are OFF.

Won’t you please support New Mexico First?

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