ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Water is a precious resource across New Mexico, and many experts agree work needs to be done to manage water in the state. But what are the best policies? A new task force report lays out its recommendations.

Last year, the Water Policy and Infrastructure Task Force, created by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, came together for their inaugural meeting. They spent the year considering ways to protect water while meeting the needs of New Mexico. Now, they’ve published their report.

“New Mexico enters 2023 in a water crisis. But with unprecedented peril comes unprecedented
opportunity,” the report notes. “Our challenges are dire, but there are things we can do if we act now.”

The report highlights what’s been known for some time: New Mexico’s water is likely to be a victim of climate change. On top of that, the water we do have is already “overallocated,” the report notes.

So what can be done? The report makes a handful of recommendations.

For example, they recommend setting targets for accountability among government departments involved in water management. KRQE News 13 previously noted that because of low staffing levels, the state’s Environment Department has a backlog of compliance checks on various environmental inspections they are supposed to do.

Many of the recommendations are to increase funding. The task force recommends a dedicated funding stream for water projects. And they suggest funding the Environment Department in order to take over surface water quality regulation currently overseen by the federal government.

The report concludes that some steps toward addressing water issues could begin with the 2023 legislative session. Already, legislators have made progress on bills that might help, such as a bill providing long-term funding for conservation. But the report also notes that preserving New Mexico’s water is a long-term process.