Legislators Seek and Receive Advice about Water Troubles

The legislature’s Water and Natural Resources Committee conducted its only water-focused meeting this year July 25-26 at Sandia Pueblo.  Legislators heard from expert panels on topics selected by the Committee leadership.  Three panels, numbers 5, 9, and 11 below, supported the need for Water Governance Reform in New Mexico.  Water Governance Reform is an overarching advocacy theme of the Middle Rio Grande Water Advocates.

Sandia Pueblo hosted the sessions

Members of multiple panels recommended bold action by the Legislature to face our future with considerably lower water supplies.  Common themes included,

  1. substantially bolstering state water management agencies’ capacity,
  2. the requirement for the State Engineer to implement Active Water Resources Management to reduce water use through collaborative shortage sharing agreements, and
  3. the need for robust and meaningful regional and community water planning to equitably improve the resilience of water supplies and water users. 

Panels of water experts and agency leaders spoke on each of the topics listed below.  Water Advocates president Norm Gaume presented on panels 9 and 11.  Videos of the presentations and legislators’ questions and comments have been released, and are available at the links below.  The agenda and handouts are available on the Water and Natural Resources Committee webpages.

The morning session on July 25 included panels:
. 1. Opening prayer and introductions of the legislators (starts at 9:13am)
. 2. History, Present and Future of Native American Water Use  (starts at 9:31am)
. 3. Status of Indian Water Rights Litigation and Settlements  (starts at 10 :39am)
. 4. Water Pipeline to To’hajiilee  (starts at 11:33am)

The afternoon session on July 25 included panels:
. 5. Water Management in an Era of Decreasing Supply; Increased Use and the Effect of Groundwater Depletions and Climate Change  (starts at 1:03pm)
. 6. The Legal and Regulatory Framework of Environmental Flows in New Mexico  (starts at 2:52pm)
. 7. The Strategic Water Reserve:  Status, Needs and Reform  (starts at 3:23pm)
. 8. Risk of Flooding from Wildfires  (starts at 3:43pm)

The morning session on July 26 included panels:
. 9. Water System Governance and Reform  (starts at 9:11am)
. 10. Water Use in Cannabis Production  (starts at 10:38am)

The afternoon session on July 26 included panels:
. 11. Middle Rio Grande Water Use and Compliance with the Rio Grande Compact  (starts at 1:01pm)
. 12. New Mexico Unit Fund: Process Access and Status  (starts at 2:33pm)
. 13. Update on Texas v. New Mexico (closed session, no video)