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March 21, 2003

Legislature Approves Bill For State Water Plan

The Associated Press
   SANTA FE   —   A measure to provide for the development of a statewide water plan was approved by the Legislature on Friday and sent to Gov. Bill Richardson.
    The Interstate Stream Commission   —   in collaboration with the state engineer's office and the Water Trust Board   —   would be in charge of coming up with the plan.
    Supporters said a water plan will help New Mexico address a wide range of problems, including water supply shortages, legal obligations under interstate compacts and environmental issues such as endangered fish in rivers.
    The legislation outlines what a water plan must contain   —   a drought management plan, water conservation strategies and ways to promote watershed restoration, for example.
    The plan would also include an inventory of the quantity and quality of the state's water resources, population projections and other water resource demands.
    Under the bill, the Water Trust Board would set priorities for planning and financing projects to implement the statewide water plan and identify opportunities to leverage federal and other funding.
    The legislation was recommended by the Legislature's interim Water and Natural Resources Committee and is modeled after regional water planning that is required under state law.
    The bill won final approval when the House agreed to a Senate-amended version of the measure.