Lujan Grisham pushes 50-year Water Action Plan

By Gavin Moughan

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made water a major part of her 2024 legislative agenda, including a 50-Year Water Action Plan.

“Looking 50 years out is a way to frame the problem,” the governor’s Infrastructure Adviser Rebecca Roose said Wednesday. “Asking the questions ‘How much water are we going to have 50 years from now and what is our environment going to be like?” has forced us into a long term planning mindset.” 

The governor’s short-term goals included asking lawmakers to approve $500 million for a Strategic Water Supply, $250 million for the Land of Enchantment Conservation Fund and smaller amounts for conservation work, outdoor recreation infrastructure and other projects.

“Near term [the Water Plan] is going to help us narrow down from many dozens of things that we have been doing, and could be doing, Roose said.

Water experts also have determined that in 50 years, New Mexico will have 25 percent less water than we do today—a bleak reality for the already dry state.

The goals of the Water Action Plan include:

  • A water education campaign to reduce community water consumption by 10%.
  • Expanding water conservation by incentivizing modern irrigation technology to reduce agricultural water use by 20%.
  • Deploying cutting-edge technology to complete a statewide water loss inventory.
  • Creating billions of gallons of new water for use for clean energy manufacturing via the Strategic Water Supply.
  • A new surface water discharge permitting program to keep rivers, streams, and lakes clean.
  • Investing in reforesting and managing forests to protect water supplies and reduce the threat of wildfires.

Courtesy State of New Mexico.

But there is significant disagreement on managing water, and some are skeptical of Lujan Grisham’s plan.

“Water is a very important issue I don’t necessarily agree with her,” state Rep. Stefani Lord, R-Sandia Park, said in an interview at the state Capitol.

Lord said solving the state’s water problems would require more input from other stakeholders with different perspectives. “We need ranchers farmers, and people with their feet on the ground,” she said.