New Mexico Releases State Water Plan Progress Report

On Sept. 1, the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer announced that the 2006 Progress Report on the New Mexico State Water Plan is now available to the general public.

The 2006 Progress Report indicates the progress that has been made to date with implementation of New Mexico's First State Water Plan effort, which was completed in 2003.

"This agency has made great strides in our implementation of the 98 strategies outlined in the State Water Plan," said State Engineer John D'Antonio. "Progress has been measured in terms of milestones, deliverables and service provided. A great majority of that progress is related to our Active Water Resource Management (AWRM) initiative. Significant progress also has been made in adjudications and settlements, in protecting our state's waters, in updating our rules, regulations and safety measures, in public outreach, as well as in wildlife, habitat, and river protection measures.

"There are other strategies on which we still have a tremendous amount of work yet to do," D'Antonio said. "I believe that we will continue to make progress in the next several years."

The State Water Plan provides a policy framework for the state to manage water issues and prioritize funding needs around the state. Applicable portions have become the strategic planning document for the Office of the State Engineer and the Interstate Stream Commission. The state Legislature mandated that the State Water Plan be updated every five years. Funding will be requested by the agency of the 2007 State Legislature for the Interstate Stream Commission to update the plan in 2008, as required. The 2006 State Water Plan Progress Report is an interim step in the process.

The State Water Plan was completed in response to the state Legislature's enactment of the State Water Plan Act and direction from Gov. Bill Richardson to the Interstate Stream Commission to have a comprehensive statewide water plan in place by the end of 2003. A key provision of the act required that the plan be developed with extensive public input. A total of 29 public meetings were held from July to September 2003 to gather public input on how New Mexico balances future water needs with limited supplies. About 1,500 participants from 232 communities around New Mexico attended the public meetings, held across the state.

The State Water Plan was adopted by the Interstate Stream Commission on Dec. 17, 2003, and was presented to Gov. Bill Richardson at a news conference in January 2004. The 2006 State Water Plan Progress Report can be downloaded from the Office of the State Engineer's Web site at http://www.ose.state.nm.us/PDF/Publications/StateWaterPlans/swp-2006-06-progress-report.pdf.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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