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Editorial: When it comes to water, you can’t plan too much

“We’d like to get people in the state to change the way we think about water. We just turn the tap and expect the water to flow.”

– Ryan Flynn, Environment Department secretary-designate

As you fill your water bottle this morning, a state task force is warning some New Mexico communities their water systems run the risk of running dry.

Think it’s the exception rather than the rule? Tell it to officials of the 290 – yes, two-hundred and ninety – systems determined to be at greatest risk. Most are run by volunteers who haven’t made system sustainability a priority.

In Magdalena, where the primary water well went dry in June, village officials admit they hadn’t checked water levels in over a year. That complacency – simply turning on the tap and expecting the water to flow – has no place in any New Mexico community anymore.

And so the state is weighing in on a matter of life and death – especially for rural communities – and committing to helping complete engineering work needed to identify problems, develop conservation strategies and identify backup water sources.


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As Danielle Shuryn of the state’s Sustainable Water Infrastructure Group says, “the emergency is less of an emergency when we have plans to deal with it.”

And if a dry Magdalena and Maxwell have shown anything this summer, it’s that New Mexico’s communities need a water plan – and a backup water plan – sooner rather than later.

The state deserves credit for recognizing this and making it a priority.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.