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New Mexico Science

Science, climate, weather and water from a New Mexico perspective

NM senators push water legislation

NM legislators talk water
Sen. Peter Wirth, center is joined from left, with Sen. Mary Kay Papen, Sen. John Arthur Smith (Wirth) Sen. Steven P. Neville and Sen. Joseph Cervantes for a morning news conference regarding water issues in the state. Dean Hanson/Journal
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A group of New Mexico legislators gathered Tuesday to call attention to a collection of water-related legislation, as New Mexico enters its third year of drought. Many of the bills were introduced Monday as legislators scramble to deal with the growing water crisis in the state.

The bills range from a $120 million request for money to buy out water rights and possibly import water to the lower Rio Grande, to an effort to end “double dipping”, as owners sell water rights from agricultural land, then developers drill domestic wells to supply houses built on land once used for farming.

“We’re not here to suggest that these bills by themselves are some sort of silver bullet,” said Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, head of the Senate Conservation Committee.

Bills discussed Tuesday include:

  • SB 466, to provide funding for additional judges to help adjudicate water rights
  • SB 479 and 480, to close the “double dipping” loophole
  • SB 481, to provide $400,000 to update regional water plans around the state
  • SB 482, to fund a detailed study of New Mexico’s long term water supply and demand situation
  • SB 440, to provide $120 million to deal with lower Rio Grande problems
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