NM WRRI staff and students from left: Aracely Tellez, Ashley Page, Avery Olshefski, Sam Fernald, Francisco Ochoa, Austin Hanson, Bob Sabie, and Xiaojie Li.
NM WRRI Staff and Students Attend State Water Planning Town Hall
by Austin Hanson, NM WRRI Program Specialist
Every five years the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) is required to review and, if needed, update the State Water Plan. As part of the efforts leading up to the 2018 plan, the ISC contracted with New Mexico First and held a town hall meeting in Albuquerque on December 13-14, 2017. The meeting provided an opportunity for vested individuals from throughout the state to come together and formulate recommendations to the ISC for the State Water Plan. Of the roughly 200 individuals in attendance at the town hall meeting, New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) sent nine students and staff to the event to weigh in and learn about what people think should be done to address the challenges of managing New Mexico’s future water supply.
Over the course of the two days, there were very few formal presentations; rather, the participants spent the majority of their time in small group discussions. Each of the six small group breakouts had its own theme, and each group was responsible for agreeing on six recommendations that were presented to the group at large. By the afternoon of the second day, nearly 200 people had come together and concurred on 36 well-thought-out suggestions for the State Water Plan.
Avery Olshefski, NM WRRI Program Coordinator, said, “It was great to see the wide range of priorities that different people have regarding the state’s water resources, which I think really speaks to the ecological, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity that New Mexico has as a state.” That being said, some recommendations proved to be common across most of the groups. For example, many people agreed that the state needs to collect more data on streamflow, diversions, consumptive use, and return flows, and the data must be openly available.
At the end of the town hall meeting, participants ranked each of the 36 recommendations. After New Mexico First tallies these results, they will be sent to the ISC to help inform the State Water Plan.