Every drop of water matters in a dry state such as New Mexico. But state efforts to create a 50-year water plan have been complicated by a tight budget, limited staff and persistent drought.In January, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Office of the State Engineer requested that the Legislature allocate $750,000 to kick-start the plan.Lujan Grisham had campaigned on the promise of a 50-year water plan that would engage communities and identify emerging water challenges.“Smart water management and conservation must become a way of life in New Mexico,” says an October 2018 plan outlining Lujan Grisham’s positions on water issues.The Legislature denied the funding request in the 2020 regular session.
The OSE did receive the go-ahead to hire two additional people for water planning. But those plans were scrapped this summer as state agencies made budget cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Now the water planning program is operating with one staffer and a $350,000 budget for the 2021 fiscal year.