Governor Michele Lujan Grisham and State Engineer Mike Hamman’s NM Water Policy and Infrastructure Task Force held its inaugural meeting on June 1st. The participants not only include diverse number of task force members, but an Executive Committee as well. The Executive Committee is made up of Mike Hamman, State Engineer; Hannah Riseley-White, Deputy Director of the Interstate Stream Commission; Rebecca Roose, Deputy Secretary of the NM Environment Department; and Marquita Russel, Chief Executive Officer of the NM Finance Authority New Mexico Municipal League.
New Mexico First will be facilitating the water task force meetings and will be in charge of writing up the final report of recommendations that the task members deem most important and passable.
Marquita Russel, Chief Executive Officer, NM Finance Authority New Mexico Municipal League acknowledged that these efforts are long overdue. “In terms of federal funding from our agency alone, we expect to see a 300% increase in federal dollars available for drinking-water projects over the next five years. The amount of money we anticipate getting for the Water Trust Board is upwards of $100-million dollars. Five years ago, 2017, there were zero dollars distributed from the Water Trust Board. We have a real opportunity to align our priorities, our processes, and get some of those projects that we all know are incredibly worthy but aren’t ready to proceed.
Hannah Riseley-White, Deputy Director of the Intestate Stream Commission, “Governor Lujan Grisham’s leadership has led us to work on this 50-Year Water Plan. It is the first time that the state has really taken a hard look at climate change and what that means for New Mexico”.
Although this meeting was mostly for introductions and organizing, next meeting they are going to “dig into the details,” as State Engineer Hamman put it. He explained that initially, the task force is going to look into what the 50-Year Water Plan is all about, and what they hope to accomplish with that. The next phase is critical, he said. They will explore all the water policies that need to be reviewed, or amended, which will complement the 50-year Water Plan. Addressing all of the ambassador’s, Michael said, “Each of your regions have their own unique circumstances, and that’s why it’s so important that we hear from all of you, and that you take what we’re working on back to your constituents and colleagues, discuss it, and bring the [feedback] back to us.” This process will hopefully help develop the report and recommendations with broad and diverse support.