You've probably heard the saying - everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
We know we can't make it rain in New Mexico, but we can improve our response to drought conditions that are stressing our farmers and our community water systems. By taking smart steps, we can save water - and millions of dollars.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I've been working with communities across New Mexico to find ways to improve our infrastructure and increase efficiency.
Recently, I helped secure $19 million in WaterSMART funding for water conservation and drought projects to help local governments, tribes, irrigation districts and other organizations use water more efficiently.
I've also introduced a bill called the SECURE Water Amendments Act to expand grants and prioritize projects related to the drought. This builds on recommendations made during the New Mexico Water Conference I hosted in Las Cruces, and contained in a comprehensive Water Report I issued last spring to help our communities access critical resources. Below is a clip about my new bill to conserve water resources and promote sustainability in New Mexico:
Though our current drought is the worst in a century, projections for the Southwest indicate even hotter and drier conditions.
Better information will help our farmers and ranchers adapt and respond. That's why I cosponsored legislation to renew the National Integrated Drought Information System, which recently passed the Senate and was signed into law. The NIDIS supports an "early warning system" of drought information, along with weather monitoring and forecasting systems to help farmers, ranchers and other industries.
I also worked hard to get disaster relief reauthorized and funded in the recent Farm Bill, and I've been pushing USDA to implement livestock disaster assistance quickly to help ranchers who have had to cut back on their herds because of the drought.
Finally, I'm introducing two additional measures that will help communities use less energy and save taxpayers' money through water efficiency.
One of these measures was an amendment offered to another bill to help water utilities, which devote as much as 60 percent of their operating costs to energy, build more innovative energy-efficient water systems. The amendment provides funding to help utilities install technology that detects leaks, so our communities can get the most out of every drop.
Another proposal would create incentives for public-private partnerships to lower the cost of innovation and help communities apply best practices in water management. Together, this would help water and sewer utilities invest in water supply planning, water efficiency and reuse technologies.
Supporting investments in water savings today will pay off tomorrow, and I'm going to continue working with New Mexico's farmers, ranchers and communities to ensure we have the water resources we need.