NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As wildfires continue to devastate New Mexico —  our congressional delegation is pushing new legislation to address our water future. 

The Rio Grande is one of the most important rivers in the southwest. Lawmakers are introducing bills to tackle water security issues. Representative Melanie Stansbury explains, “We’re experiencing a drought that is millennial in its implications and we know that our communities are struggling to figure out how we’re going to get through this summer.” 

The bipartisan package includes two bills. One of them is the Rio Grande Water Security Act. It will create a management plan for the Rio Grande Basin.

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It will look at improving infrastructure design, maintenance, repair, planning, and operations and give water managers in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas funding to address issues. “We know that that wildfire is going to severely impact our watersheds and it’s this kind of legislation that will help us get the data that we need to say what the impact will be on such a large fire,” said Representative Teresa Leger Fernández.

The goal of the other bill – the Water Data Act – is to create a better way to share info on the water situation in the southwest. Representative Yvette Herrell says, “Much of the data right now the information is difficult to find, it’s hard to understand so this will bring us the tools we need to integrate the information in some of the biggest challenges” 

Another part of the Rio Grande Water Security act is reauthorizing a program to invest in pueblo irrigation infrastructure. 

This legislation is being co-sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan. The water security and drought package will be heard in a Senate hearing next week.