Stakeholder involvement critical in dealing with NM drought - Albuquerque Journal

Stakeholder involvement critical in dealing with NM drought

New Mexico is in a severe drought that negatively impacts the state’s water dependent economy, environment, and society. Successfully confronting drought requires a multi-pronged strategy, and the New Mexico Drought Relief Act recently introduced by our U.S. Senators proposes just such an approach.

In New Mexico, we need to muster all of our resources in a comprehensive and coordinated suite of local, state and federal activities to maintain economic development, ecosystem integrity and community health in the face of drought.

Stakeholder involvement in policy formulation is critical, and the New Mexico Drought Relief Act is based on priorities of water users and water stakeholders in New Mexico.

Water issue priorities were solicited from over 500 attendees at the New Mexico Annual Water Conference of 2012 hosted by the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute and co-sponsored by New Mexico State University and Sen. Tom Udall.

The day after the conference, a group of 18 people representing interests across the state was brought together for a one-day workshop, and following the workshop, Udall’s staff put together a conference white paper that summarized the stakeholders’ solutions to drought that could be addressed by federal legislation. The New Mexico Drought Relief Act exemplifies stakeholder inclusion in policy formulation.

The bill supports a wide range of different options tailored to different hydrologic situations in New Mexico.

For example, efforts to efforts to increase groundwater recharge would raise water tables, while lining ditches for irrigation efficiency and installing new wells might lower groundwater levels in the short-term.

These contrasting efforts appear to be in conflict, but are actually appropriate for different local situations. Research sponsored by the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute shows that in many places, seepage from irrigation ditches is beneficial for groundwater recharge, but in other places lining to reduce seepage is required for efficient irrigation system management.

In locations like Hatch there are potential new sources of groundwater available for drought relief, and installation of wells to extract now unused deep groundwater could make the difference for survival of family farms.

To effectively make these water sources available requires scientific research and planning supported by the bill. Meticulous characterization of water inputs and outputs will help New Mexico legislators and policy makers craft specific projects to confront drought using tools supported by the newly introduced bill.

The New Mexico Drought Relief Act illustrates that there is not a single magic bullet and that blanket solutions don’t work in hydrologically diverse New Mexico, so we need to use all the tools we have to confront drought.

Among other provisions, the bill authorizes emergency funding for 16 different technologies and activities to address drought. Dependence on large federal water projects will not solve New Mexico water issues, so we need to work with communities, stakeholders, municipalities and user groups to have effective projects. The entire array of new and existing water sources needs to be considered such as aquifer storage and recovery, brackish water desalination, water reuse and water conservation.

The bill is a manifestation of the perspective that we can use a full palette of options for coordinated water resource management and that improved understanding of water systems will help guide the best choices of technology and information systems to manage water.

There is widespread agreement that New Mexico is in drought. We need to do all we can to improve our water availability so New Mexico can thrive.

The New Mexico Drought Relief Act lays out federal options, that when combined with state and local efforts, will make a real difference to the water situation in New Mexico.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Stakeholder involvement critical in dealing with NM drought


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
Outsiders' 'solutions' to wildfires open door to privatizing lands
From the newspaper
Northern New Mexico is in the ... Northern New Mexico is in the midst of a horrific tragedy at a scale we have not seen before with th ...
2
We must tend, not neglect, forests
From the newspaper
Government failed as responsible steward in ... Government failed as responsible steward in name of 'preservation'
3
Neglected rural communities unprepared for disaster
From the newspaper
The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire is ... The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire is a looking glass into the lack of preparedness for disasters in ...
4
Charter schools show education and politics can work in ...
From the newspaper
In a world of constant disagreement, ... In a world of constant disagreement, most of us can agree that division in our country is at a fever ...
5
Tips for better oral health in the age of ...
From the newspaper
While many people are likely aware ... While many people are likely aware of the most common risk factors associated with complications fro ...
6
ABQ can make farmers markets dynamic pipelines for small ...
From the newspaper
With spring unfolding, farmers markets are ... With spring unfolding, farmers markets are reopening in Albuquerque, and it's cause for celebr ...
7
Colón doesn't understand AG's role
From the newspaper
Lifelong prosecutor Torrez is better suited ... Lifelong prosecutor Torrez is better suited for the job
8
Crime crisis can't wait until the next legislative session
From the newspaper
As state representatives, the issue our ... As state representatives, the issue our constituents ask us about the most is what we are doing to f ...
9
Drop lies and hate, focus on solutions for better ...
From the newspaper
As the news broke last weekend ... As the news broke last weekend of a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, we joined the nation in mour ...