Preferences for Managing New Mexico Water
The purpose of this study is to identify public preferences for alternative water management institutions, policies, and programs. Survey procedures were designed to ensure representation of all groups affected by water management in New Mexico. More than 1000 New Mexico citizens with expertise in water resources were sent an extensive questionnaire and nearly one-half responded. A randomly selected sample of 600 New Mexico citizens participated in a telephonic survey and site visits and interviews were conducted in each of the state’s hydrologic regions.
The findings both support and refine the research hypotheses. As hypothesized, preferences for water management vary according to one personal involvement. A second hypothesis, preferences are modified by one’s perception of scarcity, is not as strongly supported. Other respondent characteristics including political ideology, socioeconomic status, and knowledge about water resources influence preferences much more strongly than anticipated. Within the water expert sample, two preference groups are clearly identifiable. The first group generally prefers continuation of the status quo in water management. The second preference group generally favors reform of existing policies and practices.
The findings indicate that there is considerable consensus about the need for certain policies. Responses to other policy proposals suggest considerable divergence of opinion. Policy implications and avenues for further research are presented.