September was a pivotal month in advancing equitable adaptation to escalating water scarcity within the Middle Rio Grande.
Middle Rio Grande Water Planning Authority
There was substantial progress in the formation of the Middle Rio Grande Regional Water Security Planning Authority. Elected officials from Bernalillo County are contemplating funding an inclusive plan to establish the Authority by Thanksgiving 2024. External funding is essential in the absence of state funds to implement the new regional water planning law.
The strategy involves engaging an expert team experienced in engaging diverse stakeholders to plan for the optimal use of the Middle Rio Grande’s declining river flows and groundwater. This initiative, planned for a public kick-off in January, has garnered interest and potential participation from federal, state, and local government authorities.
Legislative Water and Natural Resources Interim Committee
Dr. Ladona Clayton and I are preparing joint presentation materials for the November 6-8 Water and Natural Resources Committee meeting in Santa Fe. Our presentation, representing the Ogallala Land and Water Conservancy, Water Advocates, and NM Water Ambassadors, will underscore the urgent need for immediate legislative actions to address New Mexico’s water challenges. Dr. Clayton, Executive Director of the Ogallala Conservancy and former Clovis City Commissioner, will describe the water crisis in Portales and the looming water scarcity in Clovis. I will address the Water Advocates strategy to help establish the Middle Rio Grande Water Planning Authority by the end of 2024 to help stop excessive water depletions that cannot be sustained.
Significant appropriations from the 2024 Legislature are essential to initiate collaborative exploration, discussion, planning, and agreement on critically needed regional water solutions. Collaborative efforts to seek agreement must begin in parallel with, and not sequential to, preparation ISC’s Rules and Guidelines. The ISC’s deliberate public approach to its statewide rule making will not conclude in late spring 2025. We can’t afford to wait until then to get started.
Water Advocates for all of New Mexico
We’ve updated our name to Water Advocates for New Mexico and the Middle Rio Grande. This change clarifies our role in statewide water planning advocacy and involvement in the forthcoming public process for ISC statewide Rules and Guidelines. With 27 years of active involvement in New Mexico’s regional water planning program and passing the 2023 state regional water security planning law, our commitment to non-partisan statewide water management, planning policy, and a sustainably resilient future for the Middle Rio Grande remains steadfast.
September 21 Workshop
On September 21, State Engineer Mike Hamman and General Counsel Nat Chakeres enriched our “3rd Thursday ” Water Advocates’ monthly workshops and speakers. Focusing on Water Management and Planning for Resilience in the Middle Rio Grande, they provided comprehensive insights and a clear analysis of our current situation and the challenges ahead. The interactive Q&A session extended to the closing bell. The recording is accessible via Zoom and nmwateradvocates.org or, alternatively, through mrgwateradvocates.org.
October and November 3rd Thursday Evening Workshops
Join us for the concluding workshops of 2023. After a pause in December, the series will resume in January 2024 with a focus on groundwater governance issues, presented by thoughtful experts.
October 19 Workshop
The October workshop will initiate a multi-year regional dialogue to define the public interest in the sustainable management of the waters of the Middle Rio Grande, as mandated by the 2023 regional water security planning law. We are honored to have Bernalillo County Commission Chair Barbara Baca and Commission Member Eric Olivas kick-off this essential regional conversation.
November 16 Workshop
This session will shine a spotlight on the 2024 Legislative Session. We anticipate discussions on the aspirations and planned legislation for 2024, including provisions addressing New Mexico’s water crisis and opportunities for equitable adaptation to increasing aridity. The emphasis will be on inclusive and diverse processes respecting the varied communities and regions in New Mexico.
There was much to be grateful for in September with indications that we can make substantive water planning progress in 2024. We are delighted that three new volunteers have joined our collaborative advocacy and engagement teams. With less than a dozen volunteers doing most of the work, more help is needed. Please consider joining our active and diverse board that needs ALL voices to further support substantive water planning, legislative advocacy, and public engagement and outreach. Join and contribute to our work as Water Advocates for New Mexico and the Middle Rio Grande.