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Electric bus movement looks to accelerate; Macron says he has not ruled out using Western troop to help Ukraine stand-up to Russia; two rural Iowa newspapers saved from extinction; BLM announces added protections for sensitive Oregon landscape.

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Speaker Johnson commits to avoiding a government shutdown. Republican Senators call for a trial of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. And a Democratic Senator aims to ensure protection for IVF nationwide.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

NM Lawmakers Urged to Allocate More Money to Purchase Water

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Thursday, March 2, 2023   

New Mexico lawmakers are considering a bill this session to fully fund the Strategic Water Reserve, a management tool deemed critical as the state faces unprecedented water challenges.

Tricia Snyder, senior water policy analyst for the group New Mexico Wild, said Senate Bill 167 would put $25 million into the Reserve, which would allow the state to purchase or lease water rights from voluntary sellers or lessees to comply with the water agreements outlined in Interstate Stream Compacts, or to benefit endangered species.

Snyder argued the money needs to be there before a seller comes forward.

"People are not going to be willing to come to the table to even begin negotiations on a sale or a lease, unless they know that the state has the money to complete the transaction," Snyder contended.

She noted inconsistent funding since its launch in 2005 has limited the Reserve's effectiveness. Last year the state, in coordination with the Nature Conservancy, finalized a lease from the Jicarilla Apache Nation for up to 20,000 acre feet of water in the San Juan River, previously used for operations of the San Juan Generating Station.

Flows in the Rio Grande are decreasing because of changing weather patterns, while at the same time, New Mexico's population is projected to increase by more than 15% before 2030, which Snyder believes creates an urgent need to fund the Reserve.

"New Mexico's future is hotter and dryer, and so it's really critical that we have these tools at our disposal if we're going to meet our water challenges that we know are coming, and that are already here," Snyder stressed.

The state currently has a record revenue surplus, primarily from oil and gas operations, which could be used to fund the Strategic Water Reserve. A poll by Middle Rio Grande Advocates from 2021 found two-thirds of voters agreed or strongly agreed New Mexico government officials need to modernize and dedicate more funding toward the management of water quality and supply.

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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