ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday unveiled a $112 million proposal that she said would give the state greater security when it comes to drinking water resources.
The amount the governor has proposed to invest in water infrastructure projects would be about 60 percent of the capital outlay funds lawmakers will have to work with when they meet for their next legislative session in January.
Pointing to unprecedented drought, wildfires and floods, Martinez said aging infrastructure around the state has been put to the test in recent years. She added that some communities have run out of water, others are facing shortages and watersheds have been damaged.
“While we cannot dictate the duration or magnitude of these crises, we can and must dictate our response,” the governor said. “That is why I am proposing such a large capital investment.”
Martinez’s plan would prioritize spending on projects in communities that are in danger of going dry or struggling with water quality. The funding would also be spent on rehabilitation of dams and watersheds.
New Mexico has been dealing with extreme drought for the last three years. While there have been some improvements thanks to record rainfall during September, the latest maps show severe to exceptional drought still covers more than one-third of the state.
The New Mexico Drought Task Force has been working to identify communities with water quantity and quality problems, and the governor’s office said many of the state’s most pressing water needs are already known due to recent flooding and fires.
Matthew Holmes of the New Mexico Rural Water Association said the proposal would help New Mexico address current and future water shortages. He said communities across the state are running dangerously close to exhausting water supplies and dams, pipes, wells and other infrastructure are in disrepair.