NM WRRI Legislative Update
by Sam Fernald, NM WRRI Director
Earlier this month, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed House Bill 2, which includes $500,000 in FY 19 funding to NMSU to support an NM WRRI initiative, the NM Dynamic Statewide Water Budget (NMDSWB). The effort started in 2014 with support from Governor Martinez and with legislative efforts championed by State Senator Mary Kay Papen, and it has resulted in scientific advances as well as in the development of a practical water budget tool. The tool will better inform water planning in New Mexico. A steering committee comprised of members from New Mexico research universities and water-involved agencies helps make project funding decisions. Specific goals are to support the NMDSWB and the science needed to understand New Mexico’s physical water supply. The effort supports university researchers and agency collaborators to meet data, science, and research needs of New Mexico stakeholders.
The NMDSWB uses a mass balance accounting method to quantify how much water flows throughout the state, and tabulates changes in storage. All estimates are made at monthly timesteps at four spatial scales: counties, water-planning regions, major river basins, and statewide. The model includes water use data from NM Office of the State Engineer reports along with other data sources to characterize historical water supply and demand. The model also projects future scenarios based on options such as climate models, water-use efficiency, and population growth.
Advances in science are needed to inform the NMDSWB. As part of Statewide Water Assessment collaboration, the model is incorporating groundwater storage data from Rinehart and others (2016) to calibrate modeled groundwater storage change estimates where available. This will improve the estimates of other water budget components such as recharge and surface water-groundwater interaction. Additional efforts to model evapotranspiration and other fluxes in New Mexico are also underway.
Funding will also be dedicated to efforts that support the use of data and scientific research for state water planning. Through collaboration with the NM Interstate Stream Commission planning group, the NMDSWB will be ready for delivery in time for the State Water Plan Technical Report toolbox slated for completion in 2018.
A technical report now in progress will document the NMDSWB, and an additional peer-reviewed article will provide a broader context for the model. The article will be accessible to a wide audience in order for stakeholders in NM to understand the model and how it could help inform their water planning decisions.
Thank you to our New Mexico executive and legislative branches for funding water research that is vital for securing the future of the state’s water resources.
Rinehart, A. J., Mamer, E., Kludt, T., Brigitte, F., Pokorny, C., and Timmons, S., 2016, Groundwater level and storage changes in basin-fill aquifers in the Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico, New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Technical Completion Report June 2016.