March 14, 2023

Water Security Planning Act heads to House floor

Laura Paskus

Abiquiu Lake on the Chama River, a tributary of the Rio Grande.

A bill intended to help with water security through regional planning efforts passed the House Agriculture, Acequias and Water Resources on Tuesday and now heads to the House floor.

SB 337, the Water Security Planning Act, would enable the Interstate Stream Commission to provide loans and grants to regional water planning efforts and instructs the ISC to create regulations governing the size and composition of regional water planning entities. These regional water planning entities would submit water security plans to the ISC.

“We really see this bill as a critical path forward for communities across New Mexico, for the state as a whole, in confronting the challenges of increasing aridification associated with climate change,” Hannah Risley-White, the deputy director of the Interstate Stream Commission, said while addressing the committee as an expert witness.

She said the bill is the result of recommendations from the Water Policy and Infrastructure Planning Task Force and is also identified as a recommendation in the 50-year Water Plan.

Risley-White described SB 337 as a revamp of a 1987 water planning statute that has “largely met its purpose.”

“So we need something new,” she said. “We need to take a new hard look at the regions themselves and how they’re delineated, how we’re supporting communities across the state to prepare for the challenges ahead.”

SB 337 is sponsored by Sen. Liz Stefanics, D-Cerillos, and Rep. Susan Herrera, D-Embudo.