New Mexico lawmakers are making water a priority, can help secure the state’s water future amidst increasing uncertainty

Unanimous support for water funding shows a growing consensus, further resources need to be directed towards measuring and monitoring groundwater

January 29, 2024
Avalon Fajardo-Anstine,, (720) 447-8224

(Santa Fe, NM - January 29, 2024) — New Mexico lawmakers’ unanimous support for proposed investments in water supply and science signal the Legislature is making water a priority this session and shoring up the state against increasing stressors to its finite water supplies.

The Senate Conservation Committee last week unanimously supported Senate Bills 1 and 9, both of which involve critical funding for water-related initiatives. Lawmakers have also signaled interest in further efforts this session to fund and empower water supply and science development as New Mexico grapples with increasing water uncertainties.

Maurice Hall, Santa Fe-based senior advisor to the Climate Resilient Water Systems program at Environmental Defense Fund, praised the Legislature’s efforts and called for a particular focus on groundwater science investments:

“The Legislature’s prioritization of water this session is a welcome development that we strongly support,” Hall said. “Across New Mexico, families, farmers, and ranchers are becoming more and more reliant on groundwater as surface water supplies decline in the face of climate impacts and overuse. Given groundwater’s crucial importance, it is critical that it is measured, monitored, and managed. We cannot manage what we do not measure. We urge legislators to build on the consensus momentum this session and invest in groundwater sustainability to ensure it serves not only future generations of New Mexicans, but communities and businesses that are facing critical levels of groundwater decline today.”

Senate Bills 1 and 9 are both sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe). Each bill has received additional bipartisan sponsors. Senate Bill 1 — co-sponsored by Rep. Jack Chatfield (R-Mosquero) and Sen. Elizabeth "Liz" Stefanics (D-Cerrillos) — would transfer an additional $100 million to the Water Trust Fund. Senate Bill 9, co-sponsored by Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec, would appropriate $300 million to the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund.

EDF is also supporting other important water funding proposals, including increasing funding for the essential work of the New Mexico Bureau of Mining and Geological Resources to map, monitor, and support management of groundwater.

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