The meeting opened with a discussion about transparency, information for the public, media relations, and legislative engagement. The executive committee and New Mexico First are creating a website to share documents that are ready for the public and legislators to view. Examples include finalized notes/minutes from past meetings and the newly approved charter. A draft website will be shared for task force feedback. Task Force members asked about their role as ambassadors in their communities, how to respond to inquiries from legislators and what information from the task force can be shared.
There was a desire among some task force members and executive committee members to create a process to document when a member/members do not support the consensus recommendation on a specific topic, such as a minority report or position of opposition. This opposition is important for stakeholder groups or for a specific topic that has broad consensus except for one component of it.
The Task Force will need to come to consensus on what specific problems the task force seeks to address before coming to consensus on recommendations. Further discussion will continue at the next meeting with a note that recommendations will need to challenge policy makers and address challenges in facing the future. There is also a gap between what scientists see happening in the next 50 years and what decision makers think are important. The 50 Year Plan will provide a framework to present the challenges, then the task force will identify recommendations.
One of the challenges discussed was the need for at least 3.5 billion for water infrastructure projects for the state. Other major issues identified were that infrastructure needs are disproportionately concentrated in small communities with low socio-economic status populations, and smaller communities don’t have the capacity to plan projects, apply for money, and see them through to completion.
A Task Force member raised the need for a “navigator” to guide applicants across the funding programs; especially relevant for smaller communities with less capacity for applying to funding and planning their water projects. Another Task Force member offered the idea of having more than three topics for workgroups given the large number of individuals on the Task Force.