New Mexico’s big water plan dries up

The $500 million push to treat both oil and gas wastewater and brackish water, the proposal has been drastically down-scaled by the New Mexico legislature.
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  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s water market proposal down-scaled.
  • Original $500 million ask slashed to $100 million.
  • Focus switched from oilfield wastewater to brackish water.
  • Proposal faces hurdles before the legislative session ends.
  • Tribal consultation promised, but specifics shrouded.

February 15, 2024 — According to Source New MexicoOpens in a new tab., the state legislature is not enthused about New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s plan to create a market for treated wastewater. Originally envisioned as a $500 million push to treat both oil and gas wastewater and brackish water, the proposal has been drastically down-scaled.

What’s left? The revised plan would still use $100 million in severance tax bonds, but now focuses only on brackish water (salty groundwater). The state would buy treated water under this program.

Hurdles ahead: Lawmakers have serious concerns. With only a few days left in the legislative session, the revised plan faces an uphill battle for approval. The proposal would need to clear two Senate committees, a full floor vote, and the House to become law.

Secrecy? The lack of transparency has frustrated environmental groups and water stakeholders. Details about the plan have been limited throughout the budget crafting process. Tribal leaders, potentially impacted by the proposal, also seem to be in the dark about specifics.

More Information and Link to 4-Page Bill, SB 294Source New MexicoOpens in a new tab.

Image:  Capitol Rotunda; New Mexico state capitolOpens in a new tab., public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Deborah

Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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