Despite the fact that the legislature has not yet approved funding for a strategic water supply, the New Mexico Environment Department already issued a request for information related to this proposal.
The request for information is the first step toward developing this strategic water supply.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her plan to develop a strategic water supply late last year. Under her proposal, companies would clean up produced or brackish water to be used in certain settings, such as industrial processes or hydrogen energy production.
“To meet the demands of communities now and in the future, to sustain our economic growth, and to meet this moment with a first-of-its-kind solution, the Strategic Water Supply will build a secure, resilient water future for our state,” Lujan Grisham said in a press release. “The Strategic Water Supply will preserve our freshwater and spur the private sector to turn an untapped resource into water that we can use without asking taxpayers to front the cost.”
The RFI, which closes at the end of March, seeks technical and economic information from various sources including businesses, academia, government agencies, private individuals and other stakeholders. NMED is particularly interested in information related to sourcing, treatment, delivery, storage and industrial uses of brackish and produced water. Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas production.
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To make the strategic water supply a reality, the legislature will need to appropriate $500 million over the next two years.
In the past, proposals to use produced water have been met with backlash from some members of the environmental community that have concerns about the chemicals, some of which are considered proprietary by oil and gas companies, that are used in fracking and can be found in produced water.
According to the RFI, should this strategic water supply become a reality, the state would purchase treated water under a contract agreement with individual vendors.
“Initially, the State of New Mexico will utilize the contract agreements with individual vendors to facilitate expanded industrial uses of the treated water,” the RFI states.
As part of the RFI process, there will be two virtual public meetings. The first will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 27 and the second will be from 10 a.m. to noon on March 1.
“This game-changing water initiative is essential to fueling the next generation of New Mexico’s clean jobs, growing our economy, and conserving our freshwater sources,” NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said in a press release. “New Mexico is meeting the urgency of the moment with this innovative climate and economic solution.”
A request for proposals will likely be published this summer along with project-specific concept papers. The submissions will be due this fall.
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