A plan to protect, improve and expand New Mexico’s water supply over the next 50 years prioritizes contingency planning, improving infrastructure, adapting to climate change and working with lawmakers and other stakeholders.
The plan, which Gov. Michelle Grisham unveiled this week, outlines a strategy to safeguard water resources, a top priority for a state that is expected to have 25% less water in 50 years than it does today.
“By following the path laid out in this plan, we not only ensure that New Mexicans have clean water now and into the future, but also that an advanced clean energy economy can continue to thrive, farmers and ranchers continue to grow the food that sustains us, and our rivers remain swift and clear,” Gov Grisham said.
The plan focuses on three areas: Conservation, new supply and protection.
Efforts to improve conservation include developing incentives and policies that would increase the use of high-efficiency irrigation technology among farmers and other agricultural producers. The plan also calls for deploying remote-sensing technology to complete a statewide inventory of water loss across the state’s more than 1,000 public water systems. Repairing and replacing aging infrastructure and improving dams as well as developing a public-education campaign are also planned.
A key factor in developing new water supplies is incentivizing private companies to build plants to treat brackish water for clean energy uses and then using $500 million in state funds to purchase that water. The funds will be appropriated during the 2024 and 2025 legislative sessions. Officials also plan to implement policies to expand potable and nonpotable water reuse and improve groundwater mapping and monitoring.
The plan also calls for cleaning up contaminated groundwater sites, including 15 Superfund sites, hundreds of legacy uranium mining and milling sites, federal facilities such as Los Alamos National Lab and petroleum storage tank releases. Fixing, replacing or modernizing treatment plants and stormwater infrastructure and protecting and restoring watersheds are also planned.
In addition, state officials and lawmakers will continue to work with federal and Tribal officials to complete drinking water supply initiatives, including the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
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Photo by Phil Slattery