The next tour stop took participants across the valley to the west side of the Gila valley to view another proposed off-stream storage site at Winn Canyon. Continuing south, the group made its way to the existing diversion that supplies Bill Evans Lake where the tour ended. Much appreciation to Anthony Gutierrez for hosting the tour.
Attorney Jeffrey Wechsler opened the conference with his talk, Where does all the water go in New Mexico? Jeff’s overview of New Mexico’s water setting was divided into the topic areas of: Where does the water come from? How is water used in New Mexico? Where does the water go? Presented was a review of compacts, adjudications, water development, and current litigation. His presentation set the tone for the conference topics and presenters addressing policy direction and opportunities; vegetation management and water yield; preserving agriculture against new demands; water resiliency; monitoring surface, groundwater, and vegetation relationships; groundwater recharge; and managing drought risks through water banks. Proceedings of the conference will be available and posted on the NM WRRI website.
The 2016 Albert E. Utton Memorial Water Lecture by former Senator Jeff Bingaman was well received. His talk on Rethinking Western Water Management discussed three questions: What are our water policy objectives in the West? How well are our current laws and policies designed to achieve those objectives? How can we do better? Senator Bingaman also listed five objectives to pursue: ensure an adequate supply of water for current and future needs; ensure that our uses of water are sustainable; protect valid existing water rights; ensure our uses of water are consistent with protecting the environment; and facilitate the use of water for highest value purposes. The Senator said that if he identified the right objectives, he felt we can do a better job of aligning our laws, policies, and practices to achieve them. He provided six examples of alternative ways to administer and manage water to show how it can be done.
Planning for next year’s water conference will begin soon and is expected to include another information filled program with current topics, research, and inspiring discussion to formulate new horizons for the water resources citizenry to aim toward.