We must work together to bring excess water to NM - Albuquerque Journal

We must work together to bring excess water to NM

Our Albuquerque city fathers were visionary in their funding of the San Juan-Rio Chama water project in the 1950s.

When I (Rep. Rehm) became a new member of the Legislature, I looked for excess water in the western states. There is none. I learned there is excess water in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. I also learned that the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers developed plans for how to move this water from the Mississippi River west.

In the 2016 legislative session, I introduced a memorial requesting our federal government look at building an aqueduct from the Mississippi or its tributaries to New Mexico. In committee, this legislation was laughed at because it would require moving water past a 3,000 foot mountain range. I noted the San Juan-Rio Chama engineers were faced with a similar problem and chose to go through the mountain. Suffice it to say, this memorial did not pass.

On Sept. 13, 2019, I sent a letter to then-President Donald Trump. In this letter, it was noted there is excess, unallocated water in the Mississippi River. Yearly the federal government is paying billions of dollars from Federal Emergency Management Agency in property flood claims from the Mississippi Valley. I also noted we can predict when hurricanes and heavy rain will impact the valley. At these times it only makes sense to send the water west to avoid property damage.

At a national legislator meeting, I met the chairman of the Texas Natural Resource Committee. This committee examines Texas water issues. I learned Texas was in negotiations with Louisiana to move excess water in the western part of Louisiana to eastern Texas. We discussed we could move water from the Missouri River in Oklahoma to the Pecos River in New Mexico. This would benefit both states. We noted the water lawsuit between New Mexico and Texas will not increase one drop of water volume in the Rio Grande. We agreed New Mexico and Texas water committees should meet and discuss a 50-year and 100-year water plan. I then approached our chairman of our interim water committee and explained my meeting with the Texas water committee chairman. I requested we meet with the Texas water committee. Our New Mexico chairman denied this request.

In 2021 Rep. Montoya learned of my work on trying to bring additional water to New Mexico from the southern delta. We discussed this issue at great length. Montoya noted this would help with rural infrastructure equity and water needs statewide.

He created a bipartisan Rural Economic Task Force Committee. For the last two years it has been advocating for rural infrastructure equity statewide, including tribal communities.

In a bipartisan effort, on Sept. 3, 2021, Montoya and I sent a letter to President Joe Biden and all of our state’s federal legislators. Montoya personally contacted two members of our delegation; they were not receptive to our request. This was the only response we have ever received from either the president or congressional delegation.

On Sept. 4 this year, we noted a guest column from several N.M. legislators supporting a National Infrastructure Bank. There are 13 legislators who signed onto this federal legislation; it requires a $5 trillion appropriation. They noted California is examining bringing water from the Mississippi River to Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

We are aware Denver is examining bringing water from the Mississippi River to their city.

It is time our Legislature finally decides to drop the partisanship and join their efforts before all the excess water is sent to other western states, and New Mexico is left out.

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