Water cannot be planned for or managed competently without knowing how much water is available, and where it is. A 2019 Water Data Act created and partially funded a process to gather and organize the vast quantity of water measurements that have been and continue to be collected by disparite entities around the state. The main issues relate to ensuring the codified data aremade available and effectively used.
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Description of the Issue
Adequate data pertaining to New Mexico's water resources and water supplies are essential as the basis for water resources planning and governance. It's not possible to manage water if the water supply and water uses are not measured. Planning is hardly worthwhile.
Collection of current water supply and use measurements and availability of historical data is widely variable across the state. Some areas, including the Middle Rio Grande, have extensive data and historical records. In other geographic areas, water data are scarce or low quality and are inadequate.
In 2019, New Mexico passed the Water Data Act to establish coherent management and public availability of water measurement information, current and historical. The Water Data Act aims to develop a modern, integrated approach to collecting, sharing and using water data.
The NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources has the lead implementation role working with four other state agencies. Their short April 2020 report mandated by the statute and infographic do an excellent job of explaining the Act and establishing a plan and goals for its implementation.
The Office of the State Engineer and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission should take the lead and cooperate with others to evaluate the robustness of the water data and water resources simulation models for each of New Mexico's significant aquifer systems and river segments. The evaluation would rate the available data and models for each significant resource--and each small resource supporting significant uses--to serve as the basis of determing and managing the sustained use of each.
The Interstate Stream Commission's 50-year state water plan prepared pursuant to Governer Lujan Grisham's 2018 mandate should list and prioritize new hydrogeological data and water resource data collection programs in order that each resource with significant current or potential future water uses be well understood so as to be able manage each to provide for resiliency of current and future uses.