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Questions and Answers about the HM 1 Task Force to Improve Our Water Planning

This page will be updated often to provide Task Force members and others with current information regarding project status, important working group assignments and deadlines, contact information for assignment leaders and working group members, etc., as the TF organization is developed.

Water Planning Task Force

Questions and Answers


Question: Why is water planning necessary?

Answer:  In many, if not all of the regions in New Mexico, there is a gap between water supply and water demand, and that gap will be increasing as supplies decline.  In 1987, the legislature found that, "the future water needs of New Mexico can best be met by allowing each region of the state to plan for its water future” (§72-14-43 NMSA 1978)  No further guidance was provided.  The two attempts at water planning undertaken by the Interstate Stream Commission in the intervening thirty years have left the regions and the state with major unresolved issues. 

Question: What is House Memorial 1 (HM1)? 

Answer:  Because "threats to the sustainability of New Mexico's water supplies have grown as changing patterns of precipitation and increased demand have reduced the availability of surface water, resulting in unsustainable mining of ground water in many parts of the state," the New Mexico Legislature passed House Memorial 1.  HM1 seeks a volunteer Task Force to develop "a detailed plan or proposal for statutory, agency and regional action, to include the rationale for and results expected from the water planning, specific tasks, milestone schedules and estimated costs."  This proposal is to be submitted to the Legislature for consideration in the 2019 legislative session.   

Question: Why participate in the HM1 Task Force

Answer:  The state legislature has given the HM1 Task Force a once-in-decades opportunity to design a truly effective water planning process for New Mexico..

Question:  Who is in charge of the process?

Answer:  The House Memorial assigns responsibility for developing the proposal to the Task Force itself.  The Task Force is to deliver the proposal to the legislature by the end of June, 2018.  The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) is requested to convene the initial meeting of the Task Force, after which it may participate as its resources permit.  Until the convening of the first Task Force meeting, the Governance Study Group (GSG; see below) is acting in coordination with the ISC to send out the invitations and set up the first meeting.  The Task Force will be in charge thereafter.

Question:  What will my participation in the Task Force entail?

Answer:  Two kinds of participation are currently envisioned: (a) active or leader participants and (b) passive or observer participants.  Active or leader participants will be expected to commit to attending monthly Task Force meetings (in person or by video-conference), and take on writing and critiquing assignments in working teams between meetings.  Passive or observer participants would be placed on e-mail distribution lists, and could optionally attend meetings.  Tribes may participate at any level they choose.

Question: How do meeting and travel costs get covered?

Answer: The Task Force is all volunteer, so participants are expected to cover their own costs.  .

Question:  Who was invited to participate on the Task Force?

Answer:  To the extent we could find email addresses, invitations were sent to the following groups, asking that the invitations be re-distributed as appropriate:

            Each Water Planning Region’s RWP Steering Committee participants

            ISC’s list of water stakeholders in each region

            Tribal Governors and Presidents

            NM Municipal League, NM Association of Counties

            Water Utility, Flood Control, and Irrigation District Directors

            Business Groups, Rural Water Association, Councils of Government, S&WCDs

            Water Assembly, Amigos Bravos, Gila Coalition, NM Acequia Association

            NM Local Government Division, OSE/ISC, NMED, EM&NRD, DofA, IAD, WTB

The distribution list contains nearly 2100 separate email addresses.

Question:  Who will be selected to be on the Task Force?

Answer:  HM1 requires that the Task Force be a broad and diverse group, including tribes; agriculture; the extractive industry; urban users; development and urban businesses; environmental protection; county and municipal governments; and current water rights holders.  The GSG, acting as an interim steering committee, is soliciting members for the HM1 Task Force.  However, with more than 2000 invitations, we don’t know if we will get several, several dozen, or several hundred signups.  Once the responses are reviewed, we will make the arrangements for the convocation of the Task Force.     

Question:  Will my organization have to commit to supporting the Task Force product?

Answer:  No.  Participating individuals should represent themselves and  provide their personal expertise.  We are seeking a technically sound product/process, not a politically vetted product.

Question:  What is the Task Force being asked to do?

Answer:  The Task Force is to design a truly effective process for water planning in New Mexico:

  • Conceive a process for effective water planning within the state
  • Think outside the box; do not impose a priori constraints
  • Address the concerns from the GSG issue papers:

Governance and institutional arrangements, Linkages among plans,

Public participation, Tribal participation, Technical information, and Water rights

  • Describe any statutory, agency and regional actions needed
  • Lay out compelling rationale for water planning
  • Indicate the results expected from water planning
  • Portray specific tasks, milestone schedules, and estimated costs

Question:  What will the Task Force’s proposal product look like?

Answer:  The product should be fairly detailed, describing the proposed approach to water planning in the state.  At a minimum the proposal should answer the following:

  • What return on investment should the legislature and stakeholders expect from water planning?
  • How should water planning be conducted?
  • What are the tasks and schedules for obtaining approval and implementation of the proposed processes?
  • How will the issues in previous water planning be addressed?
  • What are the tasks, schedules and estimated costs for conducting ongoing water planning?

The Task Force, after it convenes, will develop this detailed product.  To begin this process, we developed a draft annotated table of contents  for discussion. 

Question: What is the plan of action for the Task Force?

Answer:  Developing the detailed proposal will be a complex job.  The Task Force will develop its own plan of action when it convenes.  To begin this process, we developed an draft work plan with tasks, schedules and milestones to start the discussion.

Question: Who Is the Governance Study Group?

Answer:  Sponsored by the New Mexico Water Dialogue, a statewide meeting of regional water planners was held in July 2015 at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge:ad regional water planning attendance:

                        14 of the 16 water planning regions, including NMWD Board and ISC staff

  • Discussion of ISC’s current round of regional water planning

                        Positive and negative experiences documented in the facilitator’s report

                        Substantial flaws in the process and product were reported


One outgrowth of meeting was the “Governance Study Group” (GSG)

                        All-volunteer group of eleven water planners from around New Mexico       

                        Drawn from multiple water planning regions:

                                    San Juan, Northwest New Mexico, Mora-San Miguel-Guadalupe,

                                    Southwest New Mexico, Lower Rio Grande, Middle Rio Grande,

                        Objective was to identify needed improvements to planning process

                        Have met and worked together since the Sevilleta session

                        Developed six papers on water planning issues

                        Worked with legislators to develop House Memorial 1

Question: What water planning areas need improvement?

Answer:  The GSG identified six issues in water planning that certainly need to be addressed and developed issue papers for each, containing a description of the issue and possible remedies:

  • Governance and institutional arrangements

                        Establish ongoing representative regional groups

                        Recognize ongoing planning as a problem solving process

                        Provide a negotiating table space to solve disputes

  • Strengthening linkages

                        Connections among plan levels, plan topics, and planning neighbors

  • Public participation

                        Create incentives for broad participation and more effective input

  • Tribal participation

                        Consultation and better collaboration for meaningful two-way dialogue

  • Technical information

                        Must be credible, relevant and address regional issues

  • Water rights adjudication

                        Plans must take water rights ownership and claims into account



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