New Mexico Embarks on 50 -Year Water Plan
This issue of the Dialogue’s newsletter is focused on the New Mexico Water Dialogue’s 27th Annual Statewide Meeting: “The Next 50 years: Envisioning New Mexico’s Water Future.” The meeting focused on the Governor’s effort to complete a 50-year state water plan, a presentation by Eric Perramond, and two panels hosted by Laura Paskus and John Fleck.
When Governor Lujan Grisham ran for office, she said that water management would be a priority for her administration and called for a 50-year water plan. In response, the Interstate Stream Commission prepared a briefing paper with a “proposed approach” that begins:
New Mexico faces serious water challenges related to drought, climate change, growing population, gaps between supply and demand, inadequate infrastructure, resource constraints on water administration, and interstate and intrastate litigation. The 50-year Water Plan will provide an assessment of these challenges in various sectors of the State and the State as a whole; describe how we will bring all New Mexico stakeholders to the table to ensure inclusive water planning; and, most importantly, describe what New Mexicans can do to help; all with the goal of reducing risk, improving water resilience, and creating a realistic sustainable plan for the next 50 years.
An important part of the proposal is a new initiative: “Pivot and ‘Leap Ahead’ to 2070” that will be based on an analysis by water and climate experts to use best available science to identify the risks that New Mexico faces and develop strategies to meet the challenges those risks pose. That analysis should be available in June, 2021.
You can listen to recordings of the entire event at our YouTube page, view presentations on our website nmwaterdialogue.org, or view the embedded videos of each meeting day below.
We have so many people to thank for making the annual event a success:
Lucy Moore and Virginie Pointeau, co-hosts, for their management of registration, zoom meeting, and table talks;
Jeffrey Samson for managing presentations;
Our speakers: John D’Antonio on behalf of Governor Lujan Grisham, Eric Perramond, Laura Paskus, Phoebe Suina, Kai-t Blue Sky, Rolf-Schmidt-Petersen, John Fleck, Quantina Martine, Casey Ish, and all of our Table Talk leaders.
We also want to thank Denise Rumley for creating our first Facebook page, Jeffrey Samson for managing the web page, and John R. Kofonow for creating our new web page and electronic newsletter, and arranging the move to an improved mailing service.
Thoughts on the Dialogue’s 27th Annual Meeting and Water Planning
Over the course of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all witnessed some really good, bad, and ugly Zoom sessions and conferences. With live-poll data to show that there was actual statewide attendance, the Water Dialogue’s 2021 Annual Statewide conference in January was very successful in the online meeting format. Highlights included thoughtful presentations and panels, the kickoff of a 50-year state water plan, and numerous engagement opportunities provided using the chat window and breakout rooms. I was especially pleased to see how effectively participants shared their respectful and pointed comments – providing one of the best Water Dialogues yet!
Did the Dialogue’s 27th Annual (and first “virtual”) Meeting “turn a corner” or reach an “inflection point” that signaled a change of course in the terms of the ongoing conversation about what New Mexico’s water planning program ought to be and do? My first impression is yes, it did. What had changed? For one thing, the Governor had outlined a set of principles underlying her vision of water management, focusing on the values of stewardship, sustainability, and equity. For another, the Covid-19 pandemic had two important effects on the format of the meeting, increasing both the number and diversity of participants, and expanding the ways (for instance, using Zoom’s “chat” utility) they were able to listen and converse with each other.
The old, and by now stale, questions – whether markets are the most efficient allocators of scarce water resources, whether the climate crisis is real, etc. – were supplanted by new conversations about what New Mexicans value (recognizing that we all have multiple and possibly conflicting values!), and what we can and must do in our communities and with the State to understand, address and resolve the critical resource allocation and management issues that confront us. I don’t believe the “50-Year Water Plan” can tell us what life will be like in 2070 New Mexico, but it can provide a framework and needed tools to consider what we want, what may be possible, and what people must do to make those things happen.
Common wisdom is that if you are writing a novel (or any other document for that matter), the first sentence is the most important. Jason John, our president, once again opened the Dialogue meeting in mid-January. As he noted, not only are we facing a drying environment, but for the last year and into the future, we all face the challenge of the pandemic as well. Both are taking a terrible toll on our resources. Water both binds New Mexico together but also has the likelihood of causing conflict. As Jason made clear, governance is critical and even more so now. This annual meeting focused on the ISC’s taking the leadership under Governor Lujan Grisham to do just that: develop a 50- year state water plan. This is a daunting undertaking.
The Dialogue Board is happy to welcome its newest board member Avery Young.
She is a graduate of the Water Administration Program at UNM and works at the New Mexico Environment Department on water quality issues.
Input on Water Data needs Questionnaire and Interview
The Water Data Initiative would like to know your thoughts on the water issues that impact you, with consideration of how it relates to water data needs. You are invited to participate in a 7-10 minute questionnaire that will be open until March 31, 2021. Also, please consider scheduling a 30 minute follow-up interview to discuss your responses.
We strive to better understand what it will take to make water resources in New Mexico resilient. Thanks for your participation!
Open the NM Water Survey in a new window or complete it below.