From the Office of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall:
SOCORRO — Today, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall delivered the keynote address at New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute’s (WRRI) 62nd Annual N.M. Water Conference.
In his address, entitled “Federal Water Policy and New Mexico: Our Progress and the Challenges Ahead,” Udall discussed the current water challenges facing New Mexico, including climate change, innovative solutions and opportunities for making every drop count, and his work to improve federal water policy to best support New Mexico’s communities.
From the Senator’s remarks:
Finally, we face a 21st century supply and demand situation. Regional water managers expect that, in the coming decades, we will see water shortages everywhere in our state except the San Juan Basin. In the south, growth around the border zone in Santa Teresa and Las Cruces will drive even more demand for municipal and industrial water.
And the climate is warming. In the Southwest, we’ve seen a 2.5 degree temperature increase since 1971.
Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2016 was Earth’s warmest year on record. And it was the third year in a row that temperatures broke global records.
The Bureau of Reclamation projects that the Rio Grande Basin will be hit the hardest over the coming century — warming 5 to 6 degrees by 2100.
That would cut the water flow south of Elephant Butte by half. And that is on top of a similar-size reduction from the San Juan Chama project – based on changes in New Mexico’s Colorado River allocations in low water years.
These are big challenges. Tensions can run high over water in the West. Inter-basin transfers, endangered species, municipal versus rural users, Texas versus New Mexico, the U.S. versus Mexico. The list goes on.
Cooperation will be the only successful strategy — to prepare for drought, to adapt to climate change, and to modernize our integrated water system. We must balance agriculture use, urban areas, and ecosystem needs.