Meet the new members of the Interstate Stream Commission

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently appointed a new director and seven new members to the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC). The body, which is tasked with overseeing interstate water agreements and water planning for the state, has a total of nine commissioners, including a director, a chairperson and the state engineer. The new commission members are […]

Meet the new members of the Interstate Stream Commission

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently appointed a new director and seven new members to the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC). The body, which is tasked with overseeing interstate water agreements and water planning for the state, has a total of nine commissioners, including a director, a chairperson and the state engineer.

The new commission members are Bidtak Becker, former executive director of the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources in Window Rock, Arizona; New Mexico Acequia Association executive director Paula Garcia, who also serves as chair of the Mora County Commission; Mike Hamman, chief engineer and CEO at the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District; Aron Balok, superintendent of the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District and secretary and treasurer of the New Mexico chapter of the National Water Resource Association; Gregory Carrasco,a farmer and rancher in Las Cruces who served with the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association; hydrogeologist Stacy Timmons, who is program manager at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources at New Mexico Tech in Socorro; and Tanya Trujillo, lower basin project director at the Colorado River Sustainability Campaign.

The Governor’s office said the new members represent a diverse set of interests and backgrounds. Carrasco was appointed to bring “an important agricultural perspective to water issues,” according to a press release from the Governor’s Office. Balok was formerly the southeastern regional director of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.

Only one commissioner—Becker— is also a tribal member, which is the minimum representation dictated by state law. Becker was formerly an attorney in the Navajo Nation’s Department of Justice water rights unit.

Garcia was previously a member and chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Minority Farmers Advisory Committee. Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed her to that position in 2015.

Hamman worked as an area manager at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Albuquerque and was a water administrator at the Jicarilla Apache Nation.

Trujillo served as counselor to the assistant secretary for water and science at the U.S. Department of the Interior. She also served previously as general counsel to the Interstate Stream Commission.

Timmons currently manages the Aquifer Mapping Program, a group of researchers who work to address groundwater quantity and quality questions in New Mexico.

Each of the new commissioners will serve six year terms.

Gov. Lujan Grisham also re-appointed Mark Sanchez as commission chair. Sanchez is executive director of the Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority and was first appointed to the ISC by then-Gov. Bill Richardson in 2006.

State law requires the ninth commission member to be the state engineer, which is John D’Antonio. The Office of the State Engineer oversees water rights and applications in New Mexico. D’Antonio was first appointed to the position in 2003 under Gov. Bill Richardson. He left the office in 2011 and was re-appointed to the position by Gov. Lujan Grisham.

RELATED: As NM’s water boss, D’Antonio is back on the job

The governor appointed Rolf Schmidt-Petersen as director of the ISC in late June. Schmidt-Petersen is the former ISC Colorado River Basin bureau chief, and served as New Mexico’s Engineer Adviser to the Rio Grande Compact Commission for seven years.

The ISC also manages funds and has approved money for the New Mexico Central Arizona Project (NM CAP) Entity and the Bureau of Reclamation to plan for a Gila River diversion. While working as the Colorado River Basin bureau chief, Schmidt-Petersen oversaw some of the work on the Gila diversion project. Lujan Grisham promised to scrap the project while campaigning for governor.

Schmidt-Petersen’s first act as director was to postpone the ISC’s scheduled July meeting in favor of a late August meeting, according to the Silver City Daily Press. Schmidt-Petersen proposed holding the meeting Silver City to give commissioners a site visit to the proposed areas for the New Mexico Unit of CAP, including the San Francisco River valley and the Cliff-Gila valleys.

Lujan Grisham released her strategic water plan during her gubernatorial campaign. The plan emphasized “stewardship, sustainability and equity” in water management moving forward, but also pointed to failures in the previous administration’s water management.

“Dysfunction, political infighting, a staffing exodus and budget cuts all have undermined the mission of the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) and the Office of the State Engineer (OSE),” the plan stated. “This has to stop. We need to revitalize these essential water office.”

Lujan Grisham pledged to expand and diversify the staff of the ISC and OSE, restore funding to the two bodies and provide technical support to local governments, acequias, interest groups, industry stakeholders.

“Our water is our most precious natural resource,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “These individuals are tasked with upholding the people’s trust and providing for a sustainable future of that resource.”

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she will call the Legislature into a special session this summer to address public safety legislation that did…
Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List, a nonprofit that supports women candidates and reproductive rights, endorsed seven incumbents facing general election opponents in New Mexico legislative elections. All…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management finalized its controversial public lands rule on Thursday. This rule is controversial because it allows for conservation leasing…
Haaland signs order protecting sacred lands near Placitas

Haaland signs order protecting sacred lands near Placitas

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order on Thursday to withdraw more than 4,200 acres of land in Sandoval County near Placitas from mineral…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury announced a bill on Thursday that would, if enacted, establish judicial ethics to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Judicial Ethics…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that an 1864 abortion ban is enforceable, throwing another state bordering New Mexico into the situation of…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

U.S. Rep. Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, a Democrat who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, cosponsored a resolution on Monday calling…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children, an organization that focuses on tax policy and how it impacts children in poverty, has new leadership. Gabrielle Uballez…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report