Gov. Susana Martinez
ALBUQUERQUE–Governor Susana Martinez today proposed a $112 million capital investment in New Mexico’s water infrastructure. This investment amounts to approximately 60 percent of the capital outlay funding that will be available when the New Mexico Legislature convenes in January.
Martinez’s proposal prioritizes water investments in communities that are in danger of going dry, or struggling with poor water quality, as well as water projects such as watershed and dam rehabilitation to help communities survive and thrive economically.
“Unprecedented drought, wildfires, and floods have put further stress on New Mexico’s aging water infrastructure, in communities large and small across the state. We have seen communities run out of water and our watersheds terribly damaged, and the threat of water shortage looms for many other communities across New Mexico,” Martinez said. “While we cannot dictate the duration or magnitude of these crises, we can and must dictate our response. That is why I am proposing such a large capital investment in water infrastructure throughout New Mexico.”
Martinez further recommitted her administration to continuing to work with local governments, state agencies, legislators, and others to identify critical water infrastructure projects in New Mexico.
The New Mexico Drought Task Force is working to identify communities with water quantity and quality problems, and many of the state’s most pressing water needs are already known due to recent flooding and fires. Additionally, many water treatment and delivery needs, such as dam rehabilitation and wastewater treatment, are evident due to persistent neglect.
Matthew Holmes of the New Mexico Rural Water Association praised Governor Martinez’s proposal. “Governor Martinez’s proposal is exactly what New Mexico needs to address both current and future water shortages and infrastructure problems,” he said. “Communities across our state are running dangerously close to exhausting water supplies; dams, pipes, wells, and other infrastructure are in disrepair or dangerously obsolete. These funds are crucial to protecting our state’s water supply and providing the basic security our families, communities, and businesses so desperately need.”
Martinez also noted that other communities, like Las Vegas and Hanover, are dangerously close to shortages. Her proposal would also invest in the necessary infrastructure to improve water quality in communities like Ojo Caliente and others across the state.
Governor Martinez also reiterated her support for the River Stewards initiative, a $1.5 million capital outlay investment in watershed restoration projects, which are sorely needed to restore rivers damaged from fires and floods in order to protect precious water supplies. Her proposal also addresses dam repair and rehabilitation in communities like Santa Rosa, Socorro, and others, where dams and levees are in danger of breaking, putting the security of local water supplies at risk.
Dawn Tibbetts of the American Council of Engineering Companies New Mexico commended Governor Martinez’s plan by pointing out how it will benefit communities in recruiting, retaining, and growing businesses in New Mexico.
“Communities across New Mexico need to be able to provide basic utilities to residents and businesses. Business leaders and job creators see communities like the thriving Santa Teresa borderplex and know that when New Mexico commits to modernizing and expanding water infrastructure, communities, families, and businesses will have improved access to basic resources needed to succeed,” Tibbetts said.
Martinez has long said that capital funds are best used to address critical needs in communities throughout the state – and in particular, infrastructure needs that create jobs in the short-term during design and construction phases and lay a long-term foundation for economic growth.
“Water security is one of several critical pillars of economic growth,” Martinez said.