April 30, 2013

Water Conference Report

Last summer, I was proud to co-host the 57th Annual New Mexico Water Conference at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

Our conference brought together around 500 participants, including farmers, ranchers, engineers, experts and community members to address the impact of water scarcity and explore possible solutions to help New Mexico adapt to the ongoing drought.

Since the conference, my office has been compiling the strategies and policy proposals we discussed.

Today, I am pleased to release our Water Conference Report - the product of months of hard work following the conference.

This report contains 40 proposed actions developed from the conference and the discussion afterwards.

These proposals fall into seven categories: research, water infrastructure, water transfers and markets, environmental restoration, agricultural practices, water conservation, and water resource planning.

It contains an additional 40 recommendations by audience members from the conference.

Many -- but not all -- of these recommendations look at the federal role. I will be drawing from our report in my work on the Appropriations Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, and the Indian Affairs Committee.

The completion of this report isn't the end of the conversation; it's the continuation of it.

I would like to thank all the individuals, especially our water policy experts, for their contributions to this report.

They took time from their jobs as farmers, professors, irrigators, policy makers, activists, and attorneys to help find cooperative solutions.

I also want to thank Sam Fernald and Cathy Ortega-Klett of the Water Resources Research Institute, and all those who helped organize the conference at NMSU last summer.

As the conference title suggested, Hard Choices will need to be made if we are to avoid divisive conflicts as a result of the devastating drought.

And that requires cooperation and collaboration. That is how we move forward. That's what this conference report is all about.

P.S. - If you weren't able to join us at the conference, you can view the entire archived webcast online, thanks to NMSU. Click here to watch from my welcome presentation to the breakout sessions, including our "Straight Talk" panel of retired state engineers. You can also read the full text of my remarks as prepared for delivery, and download the graphs and slides I mention in my presentation.

Tom Co-Hosts the 57th Annual WRRI Water Conference @ NMSU