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Living rivers vital to New Mexico’s 50-year water planning effort

October 20, 2021
Tricia Snyder, WildEarth Guardians, 505-396-1752, tsnyder@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
#LivingRio, #LivingRivers, #PressStatement, #RethinkRivers, #ReviveTheRio, #RioGrande
ALBUQUERQUE—In an effort to protect living rivers in New Mexico and ensure a thriving recreational economy for decades to come, WildEarth Guardians and its supporters across the state submitted comments on the Leap Ahead Analysis for New Mexico’s 50-year Water Plan. The group highlights that the analysis, which serves as the scientific foundation for the forthcoming plan, falls short in analyzing the effects of climate change on the ecological health of the state’s waterways, imperiled species, and the state’s recreational economy. The comment period for the state’s scientific foundation of the plan closed Friday, October 15, 2021.

“Without a strong understanding, rooted in science, of climate change impacts to all water uses across New Mexico we can’t hope to incorporate coherent policy or management recommendations,” said Tricia Snyder, Rio Grande Campaigner with WildEarth Guardians.

Guardians expressed its concerns that all water uses and values are not included in this important planning process. The 241-page draft assessment includes a chapter devoted to climate impacts on agricultural, municipal, and industrial uses, but does not include a corresponding chapter on the ecological health of rivers and streams, the effects on endangered and threatened species, or recreation. There is currently no indication in the timeline provided by the state that the public will have a chance to comment on the final version of the Leap Ahead Analysis. The water plan itself is set to be released in early 2022.

“Governor Lujan Grisham identified the need to center equity, stewardship, and sustainability in the 50-year water planning process,” continued Snyder. “If we’re serious about that, impacts to the environment, the quality of life it facilitates for all New Mexicans, and the recreational economy it supports must be included in the scientific foundation of the plan.”

The drying Rio Grande pictured in September 2021 near La Llorona Park in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo by Javier Gallegos.