NM water projects seek boost in funding - Albuquerque Journal

NM water projects seek boost in funding

The Rio Grande in Corrales on Aug. 8. A panel of New Mexico water experts on Wednesday encouraged the legislative Water and Natural Resources Committee to improve water management by investing in data collection and state agency budgets. (Robert Browman/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

In a year marked by extreme water conditions – drought, floods and record-low reservoirs – New Mexicans continue to debate how best to manage scarce water supplies.

A panel of water experts on Wednesday encouraged the legislative Water and Natural Resources Committee to improve water management by investing in data collection and state agency budgets. Stacy Timmons, the associate director for hydrogeology programs at the state’s Geology and Mineral Resources Bureau, said “vintage” data systems prevent officials and residents from finding quick answers to water questions.

“In some agencies, there’s a lack of a data system entirely, where there are multiple Excel spreadsheets that are archived on different hard drives,” said Timmons, who also serves on the Interstate Stream Commission. “And in other cases, even worse, paper data are archived on shelves and file cabinets.”

Timmons recommended boosting New Mexico Tech’s state budget for the Water Data Initiative from $100,000 annually to $600,000.

The project tasks state agencies with integrating water data into usable formats. The university is also mapping the state’s aquifers to “fill a data gap” on groundwater quantity and quality.

That data could come in handy as entities pump more groundwater because of limited water flowing in rivers and streams.

“We’re kind of into this new level of scarcity where relying on instinct, rather than evidence-based decisions, is no longer going to work for us,” Timmons said. The Office of the State Engineer’s 2015 estimates show that irrigated agriculture accounts for 76% of New Mexico water use.

State Rep. Larry Scott, R-Hobbs, said adapting to a changing climate will require examining the economic hurdles farmers and ranchers face as traditional water supplies dwindle.

“It would seem to me that eventually water will flow to the point of greatest economic benefit,” Scott said. “The fact that we have overallocated our resources in the state is a problem that has to be addressed, and it cannot be addressed without including agriculture in that conversation.”

Funding for water agencies like the Office of the State Engineer and the Interstate Stream Commission needs a “remodel,” said Kyle Harwood, a Santa Fe water lawyer.

“These agencies are stretched very thin,” Harwood said. “They’ve been asked to do more and more with less and less over the last decade.”

Harwood recommended that lawmakers replace the OSE’s two trust funds with general fund revenue, and increase baseline funding to add 40 employees over the next two years.

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.

 

Home » ABQnews Seeker » NM water projects seek boost in funding


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Los Ranchos judge, pets killed by husband in murder-suicide ...
ABQnews Seeker
Deputies say a man shot his ... Deputies say a man shot his wife, their dogs and a cat before killing himself Friday afternoon at the couple's home in Los Ranchos. ...
2
A tiny NM-TX border town is raking in recreational ...
ABQnews Seeker
Customers begin lining up on a ... Customers begin lining up on a hot Friday afternoon in mid-October at Ultra Health in Sunland Park. Just a three-minute drive away, others are ...
3
How does someone abandon an investment?
ABQnews Seeker
Q: I acquired a 10% interest ... Q: I acquired a 10% interest in a real estate partnership in 2018. The partnership is a Delaware entity and the property is in ...
4
Vegan food truck Lucky Goose opens brick-and-mortar location
ABQnews Seeker
Food truck Lucky Goose, which has ... Food truck Lucky Goose, which has catered to meat-free diners with vegan milkshakes and plant-based burgers, had its grand opening for its Nob Hill ...
5
Mama’s Minerals comes to Indian Pueblo Cultural Center's Avanyu ...
ABQnews Seeker
The retailer is New Mexico's largest ... The retailer is New Mexico's largest rock and bead store.
6
Escaping perfectionism is helping my small business
ABQnews Seeker
I realized that it’s more than ... I realized that it’s more than okay to be my true self at work
7
Belen puts a halt on new dispensaries
ABQnews Seeker
As the number of retail cannabis ... As the number of retail cannabis stores in Belen continues to grow, the city has put a temporary halt to new applications and zoning ...
8
Emptying the Notebook: Can somebody tell Donovan Dent he's ...
ABQnews Seeker
Here are some extra notes, quotes, ... Here are some extra notes, quotes, stats, tweets, video and whatever else I could empty out of the old notebook after Friday's Lobo basketball ...
9
A quiet space for time apart
ABQnews Seeker
Norbertine community adds lodging, meeting space ... Norbertine community adds lodging, meeting space to West Side center