Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly

 
Quarterly Debate Project

  Tackling the Tough Water Issues

Background - It has been eight years since the Middle Rio Grande Regional Water Plan was accepted by the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. During this time the Water Assembly’s Board of Directors has sought to find ways to ensure implementation of the Plan’s strategies and recommendations for achieving its core purpose: to balance all uses of water in the region with renewable supply. This endeavor has so far failed. Among the obstacles are:

 o    Water management entities are pursuing their separate interests (assuring full supply
to their constituencies), with minimal reference to the Plan.

 o    The entities lack data and a common metric for assessing whether their actions to
manage demand and increase effective supply are sufficient to achieve a sustainable
balance in a changing environment, within a reasonable time.

 o The Water Assembly has neither the legal authority nor the physical resources to
require the entities to address these issues and to act to resolve them in concert.

Considerations - Recognizing these facts, the Board engaged in a wide- ranging discussion about the Water Assembly’s continued relevance and produced a general consensus that the Assembly should continue to exist because of the increasing importance of water issues and upcoming opportunities for the Assembly to make a difference on those issues. None of the problems stated above is necessarily fatal, and some developments at the State level suggest that if the WA should disappear, another organization would likely need to be created to replace it.

Resultant Project - The Board decided to proceed with a plan for holding quarterly meetings of the Assembly in 2013 at which those present would discuss position papers on specific water issues prepared in advance. The meetings would revise and finalize the position papers with the goal of presenting them afterward to key decision-makers in New Mexico. Further decisions about this course of action and about whether and how to proceed with the Futures Project are pending.

Possible Alternative - Impending developments that could affect Water Assembly plans include movement at the ISC not only to complete its update of the State Water Plan in early 2013, but also to reinstitute funding for regional water planning. Moreover, the ISC planner has indicated interest in working with the NM Water Dialogue (and perhaps a reconstituted State-Regional Water Planning Committee) to develop a new “template” for updating and revising regional water plans. State Engineer Scott Verhines and ISC Director Estevan Lopez are both scheduled to speak at the Dialogue’s Statewide Meeting on January 10, the theme of which is, aptly, “Reviving Water Planning: Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities.” We may be better able to see a way forward for regional water planning in the MRG following that meeting.

Planning for the Sessions - A committee will meet at 11:00 am on Monday, December 17 at the Bernalillo County Environmental Health conference room,
111 Union Square SE, to prepare a plan for implementing the 2013 quarterly meetings and position papers. A major task there will be selecting just a few initial issues to address from a list of thirty one possible issues.  The committee will consist of Elaine Hebard, Bob Wessely, John Brown, Elizabeth Chestnut, Marco Wikstrom, Lynn Montgomery,Bruce Thomson anyone else who attends.

More... - For additional information, please contact Bob Wessely, President of the Water Assembly, at Wessely@SciSo.com, or (505) 454-0555. 

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