“This isn’t a regional issue; it’s not a partisan issue. It’s a statewide issue. It is an issue that involves each one of us as New Mexicans. We’re all in this together and we all need to step up and navigate our way through as we move forward.”
That’s Conservation Champion and Senate Conservation Chair Peter Wirth talking about what Senator Majority Leader Michael Sanchez has called the sleeper issue of the session: water.
Senator Wirth gathered Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur Smith, Senator Joseph Cervantes, and Senator Steven Nevill to discuss water issues in New Mexico.
“Here’s a wakeup call,” Senator Cervantes said. “There was no mention of water in the (Governor’s) State of the State and that troubles I know a number of us. We have to put water at the forefront of the minds of New Mexicans.”
For the first time in the history of Rio Grande Elephant Butte Irrigation Project, Cervantes’ family farm has been informed that they will not receive any water.
The press conference highlighted 5 Senate bills dealing with water. They were SB 466 Additional Judgeships, SB 479 Adequate Subdivision Water Supplies, SB 480 Subdivision Water Permits, SB 481 Regional Water Planning, SB 482 Water Vulnerabilities List Working Group and SB 494 Water Prior Appropriation Rules. To read more in depth information about these bills, visit www.ProtectNewMexico.org.
Senator Wirth said that the list of water issues in New Mexico range from lawsuits to endangered species issues.
“We won’t agree on everything but what is undisputed is the economic impact to our state which I think is tremendous. We’re not here to say by any means that these bills themselves are some sort of silver bullet. These bills don’t even scratch the surface. Everything related to water needs to be on the table moving forward and we’re at the beginning of an incredibly important conversation,” Wirth said.
It is critical that conversations about water occur especially in a time when a majority of the state has been in severe drought for nearly two years. As Senator Wirth said, it’s encouraging that this conversation is occurring at the legislative level.