SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A bill geared toward at leveraging the collective power of small water associations has been signed by the Governor. Supporters say the new law will help small, rural communities team up to improve their local water supplies.

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by a trio of Democratic legislators, was signed into law Monday, March 13. The bill allows existing, small water associations to join together in order to act as a larger water utility. The idea is that by doing so, they can pool resources and make larger investments to secure access to water.

“In many ways, they really don’t have a choice,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) said during debate on the bill in January. “Drilling wells – we’re reaching the point where that’s not an option.”

Under the new law, communities can create Regional Water Utility Authorities to oversee water acquisition and use. It’s not yet clear how many communities might come to rely on such regional utilities, but a little over 150 small water associations currently serve communities around the state, according to the New Mexico Rural Water Association. Now, some will have the opportunity to join forces if they think it will help bring water to New Mexicans.