As New Mexico grapples with issues of water management in our dry state, one positive step forward was the Water Policy and Infrastructure Planning Task Force’s recommendation to develop the state’s regional water plan. SB 337 – Water Security Planning Act was born from this recommendation. Sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Stefanics (39) and Representative Susan Herrera (41), the bill passed unanimously in the 2023 legislative session. It moved seamlessly through both the House and Senate, before being signed into law on April 4, 2023.
The Water Security Planning Act empowers the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) to make loans and grants for regional water planning. It also sets ISC up to make rules and guidelines regarding regional water planning, enabling the ISC to create regulations governing the size and composition of regional water planning entities. These smaller, more local entities will develop and submit water security plans to the ISC.
The effect of these changes and the expanded authority of the ISC is to help regions understand and plan for the aridification they are already facing and will continue to experience as climate change brings hotter and drier conditions to the state. This kind of long-term planning and cooperation is exactly what New Mexico and its communities need to build resilience in the face of climate change.
The fact that the Water Security Planning Act was founded in a state report and passed with bipartisan support is a clear indication that every New Mexican sees the value of responsible water management. If we are to keep our communities, lands, and wildlife safe from the ravages of climate change, we must all work together. The success of SB 337 shows us that we can do just that.