Today Governor Susana Martinez announced plans to include in her budget recommendation two new state funds that will support local communities dealing with water emergencies, and help struggling communities come up with sound technical plans for projects and upgrades to prevent such emergencies. Governor Martinez's proposal seeks to establish a Dry Community Water Emergency Fund and a Technical Assistance Planning Fund.
The Dry Community Water Emergency Fund will provide emergency assistance in the hours and days following a water supply emergency, allowing for the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to declare the presence of an emergency and work to deliver the necessary provisions to respond. Statute does not currently allow for this type or level of state response to a local water supply problem. Governor Martinez's proposal calls for an initial investment in the fund of $200,000, and would further allow for the fund to be replenished in $200,000 increments upon executive order, similar to the way in which emergency funds are made available to battle other emergency situations, such as fires.
"Given the drought situation we currently face, it is imperative that the state have the authority to treat dry community events as water supply emergencies, allowing us to respond quickly to help residents and businesses cope in the immediate aftermath," said Governor Martinez. "Furthermore, the only thing that stands between many small communities having clean drinking water and a water system that is not susceptible to failure is technical assistance funding that can be used to design and construct the right repairs to ensure a secure and sustainable water supply."
The Technical Assistance Planning Fund would be managed by the New Mexico Environment Department and could be tapped by small communities seeking design or construction assistance for high-quality water system repairs that would address water quality concerns or mitigate the risk of the community running dry. Governor Martinez is proposing a $250,000 appropriation for this effort.
"A small investment in technical and design support for one of our many rural communities could prevent tremendous costs in the future, should its water system fail," continued Governor Martinez. "And these small grants can make a tremendous difference in bringing an end to the perpetual struggles of many of our communities to provide basic, clean drinking water to their residents."
As part of her continuing effort to address New Mexico's pressing water challenges, Governor Martinez also recently proposed investing $112 million in capital outlay funding to improve water infrastructure across the state, as well as $2 million for the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute to boost water innovation in New Mexico. Together, these initiatives will help New Mexico secure the stable and safe water supply needed to build an economy that leads, so that communities can survive and thrive.