The Senator went on to discuss five objectives he felt most people would believe were reasonable to pursue concerning laws and policies governing our water: 1) ensure an adequate supply of water for current and future needs; 2) ensure that our uses of water are sustainable; 3) protect valid existing water rights; 4) ensure our uses of water are consistent with protecting the environment; and 5) facilitate the use of water for highest value purposes.
Given those water policy objectives, the Senator said, “…I would conclude that we have built a set of laws, policies, and administrative practices over many decades—many of which are not that well designed to help us achieve our objectives. We need more flexibility in the systems we use to manage water.” The Senator proceeded to discuss models that can be used to administer water that “sidestep much of the legal and institutional apparatus that now exists.” The models include shortage sharing agreements, the Strategic Water Reserve, conservation plans, Active Water Resource Management (AWRM), collaborative efforts to forego the use of water in order to maintain streamflows, and the voluntary use of native water for environmental purposes. Click here to view the Senator’s talk in its entirety.
The Albert E. Utton Memorial Water Lecture was established in 1999 to celebrate the memory of Al Utton (1931-1998), who for over 35 years served the citizens of New Mexico as a distinguished member of the University of New Mexico School of Law, a twenty-year member of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, a valued advisor to the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, a worldwide authority on transboundary resources issues, and a lifelong friend of the New Mexico Water Community. The Utton Water Lecture Committee selects speakers and Senator Jeff Bingaman joins other eminent recipients including Dan Tarlock (2001), Mexican Ambassador Alberto Szekely (2003), Charles DuMars (2005), Em Hall (2006), John Hernandez (2008), Joe Stell (2009), Tanya Trujillo (2013), and John Hawley (2014). Contributions to the Utton Lecture Fund can be made by clicking here.