From the President’s Desk: State Government Neglect of Water Must Stop Now

Addressing New Mexico’s Water Crisis

New Mexico’s water governance crisis threatens our very survival. This situation demands urgent, transformative change, yet political strife at the highest levels is getting in the way, threatening to block urgently needed actions by the State. Despite earnest, professional efforts to initiate the transformative changes necessary for our survival, New Mexico risks evaporating its people along with its diminishing water and economic security. We must wake up to this reality and adapt to the increasing aridity affecting our watersheds, as echoed by experts in the Leap Ahead Analysis.

It’s time for New Mexico to wake up! 

Like a contributing author of the Leap Ahead Analysis recently said, for 40 years we’ve ignored the clear warnings of science and failed miserably to mitigate greenhouse gases. Now, we’re left with no choice but to adapt to the drying and significant aridity intensifying in New Mexico, affecting our watersheds the most. Only that choice to adapt makes any sense to those who like me, love New Mexico and want to see it left habitable for future generations of New Mexicans.

Legislative Inaction on Water Security

As the 2024 NM legislative session reaches its midpoint, vital Water Security and Economic Security funding is at risk due to ongoing disputes between the Executive and Legislature. This squabbling if it continues will cause us to miss out on federal funding and opportunities to address the very basics of improving New Mexico’s water governance. The State is ignoring the NM Water Ambassadors’ priorities, grounded by the State-Government-chartered 2022 Water Policy and Infrastructure Task Force’s analysis.  This is disastrous.

Public Criticism and Action

The website, a grassroots-funded initiative by the Water Advocates for New Mexico and the Middle Rio Grande, aims to increase government accountability by bringing public pressure to bear on our elected State Government leaders. The website demands State Government begin responsible water management of wet water, not permits and paper, to provide for the public health, safety, and welfare of all New Mexicans.  The site offers resources for citizens to engage with their legislators to respectfully demand their attention to vital role of water in everything, in all of life.

A Call to Engage and Demand Action

We urge that you respectfully demand by copying and customizing our pre-written letter requesting New Mexico’s state government leaders and your legislators to wake up and address this crisis. The law requires water planning.  It requires us to use “the best science, data and models relating to water resource planning … with scientific integrity and adherence to principles of honesty, objectivity, transparency and professionalism in developing, vetting and prioritizing proposals.” The State must fund the very basics of water governance or none of this can happen.  Additionally, our elected leaders must realize that when it comes to funding water projects, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. 

We need our leaders to fund essential water projects, not speculative ventures. The future of New Mexico depends on our ability to adapt to a water-scarce environment, requiring cooperation and decisive action from our state leaders.

The Urgency of Now

We cannot change the past, but we must and can change the future. It’s imperative that the 2024 Legislature funds urgent water priorities before the session ends. New Mexico will not survive continued State government neglect. It’s time – past the time – for our leaders to step up.

Please, leaders of the State of New Mexico government: fulfill the critical roles only the State can play to secure New Mexico’s water future – our future.


  1. LeRoy Baca on February 1, 2024 at 7:55 am

    As a farmer, I recognize the limited water availability to us and the need to study best practices in achieving an equitable system in water management. With climate change that’s pushing our water resources to a point where farming will not be feasible. We must fund programs that help us all live in a place where water management is critical and helpful to our economic feasibility.

  2. Steve Harris on February 1, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    One of the likeliest and least tolerable of an unmitigated water future is the wholeslae drying of our rivers. We simply must defend rivers themselves, as we chart our state’s future course.

  3. Norm Gaume on February 1, 2024 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks for your comments, LeRoy and Steve. I agree with you.

  4. Bill Haneberg on February 11, 2024 at 1:45 pm

    You were an articulate voice for rational and forward-looking water policy in New Mexico when I was working on groundwater issues here during the 90s and, now that I am back after a quarter century, I am glad to see that things have not changed.

  5. Norm Gaume on February 11, 2024 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for checking in. Phil King said it quite well recently, succinctly capturing some bottom lines from his deep understanding of New Mexico’s water future. The longer we wait to begin, the poorer the outcome. There is so much we can and must do, even if key elected officials, particularly the state budget makers, still, after those 25 years, don’t get it or prefer to work on lesser priorities than Water. Human? Yes. Facing an existential known but delayed onset problem. No.

    See Phil King quotations posted under announcements on the homepage at


  6. Cirrelda Snider-Bryan on February 14, 2024 at 5:44 pm

    2 weeks later after your editorial here, 2/14/24, – and there is a report that the $500K for the desalination project proposed by governor has been moved back in the funding process. Does this mean the governor’s whole 50 year plan proposal has been moved backwards in the funding line? And what of the $9 billion for aquifer mapping? Referring to what was mentioned in this article:

  7. Norm Gaume on February 14, 2024 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for the question. My response attempts to be just factual, below.
    1. Senate Finance Chair Munoz reportedly said commodification of treated produced water scared him He pulled all state capital outlay funding from the Governor’s proposal, and said a separate bill would be introduced.
    2. SB294, a dummy bill, appeared without notice, sponsored by Chair Liz Stefanics, Senate Finance Chair Munoz, and Sen Sharer from the San Juan basin oil patch.
    3. It heard Tuesday morning, in a 1.5 hour hearing. I offered long testimony in opposition and a sardonic amendment, and was eventually cut off.
    4. The committee was tabled SB294 Tuesday morning on a 1-8 vote, Stefanics loosing.
    5. it was taken off the table as a new Senate Conversation Committee substitute Tuesday evening. This morning, it was forwarded for action or not by the Senate Finance Committee, without recommendation.
    6. Senator Cervantes, explaining his vote to table, delivered both criticism and some sense of victory, observing the Bill as now amended and passed up the chain just before the clock strikes 12 without recommendation by the senate conservation committee as the Senate’s water policy committee abdicts the committee’s responsibilities to other decision-makers who know even less. He observed, correctly in my reading, that the does absolutely nothing a memorial with an aspirational unfunded mandate could not do just as well.
    7. The disinformation flow forth from officials and vested interests (deliberate) and the misinformation of the ignorant who don’t know what they don’t know about water in New Mexico but making policy and setting funding priorities regardless caused me to have a true PTSD flashback. I literally flipped out after it was over and said things in a manner I now regret to a disinformant who knows the truth. I accused them of betrayal when I should have bit my tongue harder and walked out. I regret that and am taking a break.
    8. I will be hosting what I believe will be a very interesting workshop at 6:30 pm on February 15.]
    9. Then I am taking a break until March, when we then begin to make tart lemonade that is just sweet enough to be refreshing and welcomed over the 2024 Legislative “interim.”
    Thanks for being a Water Advocate.

  8. Cirrelda Snider-Bryan on February 16, 2024 at 7:35 pm

    Hello Norm Gaume,
    Appreciate so much your taking the time to interpret it all. This helped me. Also helped me last eve (2/15/24) to hear your spoken words on the workshop. It’s becoming clearer. I wonder if you all would want to look at the curriculum I developed at the NM Museum of Natural History for Groundwater Ed. I led the partnership btw museum and Bureau of Geology for 3 years before I retired in 2020. Teaching about aquifers in the Kiwanis Learning Garden with that great well and windmill there. I developed a curriculum. with handouts. -cirrelda

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