Governor names new state engineer - Albuquerque Journal

Governor names new state engineer

Mike Hamman in 2015. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham named Hamman as the new State Engineer on Wednesday. (Dean Hanson/Journal File)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has named longtime New Mexico water official Mike Hamman to serve as the state engineer, the Governor’s Office announced Wednesday.

The move comes as New Mexico grapples with extended drought and Supreme Court litigation with Texas over groundwater.

The position administers the state’s water rights.

Hamman replaces John D’Antonio, who resigned at the end of 2021, and said water infrastructure will be a major focus for his agency.

Last year’s federal infrastructure bill includes $355 million for New Mexico water projects.

“We want to get to a place where we’re ahead of the curve instead of just reacting to emergencies,” Hamman said. “It will be quite a challenge bringing rural drinking water and wastewater systems up to standard and making sure they’re set for the likelihood of drought and climate change impacts on water resources.”

The state engineer is also secretary of the Interstate Stream Commission, which oversees water compacts with neighboring states.

In a statement, Lujan Grisham said Hamman is an “expert in his field and a homegrown New Mexico professional widely respected across the state.”

“In light of a warming climate, protecting our most precious resource and planning for New Mexico’s future is more important than ever,” Lujan Grisham said. “I am grateful to Mike for his continued commitment to New Mexico’s water future and look forward to his leadership at the Office of the State Engineer.”

The Corrales resident grew up in Taos working at his family’s motel.

“We had rights to an acequia that ran through the property, and one of my jobs was to schedule water with the other users, who were oftentimes pueblo members upstream,” Hamman said. “I kind of fell in love with working with people and acequias then.”

Hamman is a registered professional engineer with a civil engineering degree from the University of New Mexico.

The former Bureau of Reclamation area manager and City of Santa Fe water resources director will now head an agency crafting a 50-year water plan.

Hamman was the Jicarilla Apache Nation’s water administrator for eight years. Since 2015, he was the CEO and chief engineer for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

Lujan Grisham appointed Hamman to the Interstate Stream Commission in 2019 and recently named him as the state’s water adviser.

Hamman will start in the state engineer post on Monday, with an annual salary of $158,000.

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

 

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