Clean Water
In order to increase water availability for municipalities and agriculture, new water projects have been proposed in New Mexico.  Planned water projects will create new, major water diversions from the Rio Grande.  Do you support or oppose water projects that divert more water from the river to municipalities?  What recommendations would you make for water allocation and/or conservation?

Do you support emergency actions, such as decreasing the amount of water diverted from the Rio Grande, to protect the remaining wild population of the endangered Silvery Minnow in the Rio Grande? How do you propose to manage water resources for both human and wildlife use?  

American Rivers listed the Rio Grande as one of the most endangered rivers of 2000.  Historically, the Rio Grande dried only in times of extreme drought. Even then, pools of water still existed, supporting native fish, birds and other wildlife. The unaltered river was wide and braided, unlike the present channel created by levees and jetty jacks.  Currently, massive water diversions create large dry stretches in the Rio Grande in times of low rainfall.   

This low water flow in the Rio Grande has been devastating to the endangered Silvery Minnow.  With 95 percent of the remaining wild population stranded in a small stretch of the river, a continued drought without supplemental water may result in a dry river and extinction of the minnow. 

Diversions of water for irrigation and municipal use claim nearly 95 percent of the Rio Grande’s average annual flow. In fact, claims to the Rio Grande’s flow exceed the actual supply.  As currently proposed, the City of Albuquerque's planned water project will create major new diversions from the Rio Grande.  The City’s proposal will divert an additional 48,600 acre-feet of water from the Rio Grande.  Many organizations recommend pursuing a more sustainable water future, rather than further depletion of the over-taxed Rio Grande. 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has recommended that approximately 750,000 acres of BLM land be designated as National Wilderness Area.  However, some experts believe that more than three times that amount should be protected under wilderness designation.  What policy recommendations would you make regarding management of BLM lands in New Mexico?

New Mexico Wilderness Alliance is an alliance of conservation groups dedicated to saving New Mexico's wildest places. Field studies conducted by members of the Coalition identified some 2.5 million acres of public lands in New Mexico -- including 1.6 million acres of BLM land -- that should be preserved as wilderness. This proposal stands in stark contrast to BLM's recommendation of just 761,000 acres, which was proposed under the leadership of Interior Secretary James Watt.

From high plains grasslands to needle-sharp mountain peaks, New Mexico's BLM wildlands contain a wealth of treasures: Anasazi ruins, ancient petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks and rich plant and animal life. These lands have remained wild despite several centuries of settlement because they are rugged and remote and have little or no conventional economic value. Many believe that their highest value today lies in wilderness protection, which supports plants and animals, clean watersheds, and the tourism industry, New Mexico's largest employer.

As new unplanned development in New Mexico continues at unprecedented rates, many communities are harmed by degraded air and water quality, a loss of open spaces, and increased taxes needed to cover costs of new schools and utilities.  What actions will you take to manage new growth? 

New development in New Mexico has increased dramatically in the past several years.  In the ten years between 1982 and 1992, 16,630 acres of privately owned land was developed.  In the following five years almost five times that amount, 70,000 acres, was developed.  Since 1997, more and more construction has occurred on previously undeveloped, open lands.  New Mexico must decide how to handle the increase in new development and population growth.

Unfortunately, many New Mexico communities are left with the bill for new water and utility lines, schools, and roads once a new development is complete.  Unplanned development can also result in increased air and water pollution, traffic congestion, and a loss of important open space.  Growth, however, does not have to result in the destruction of environmental and community health.  Both state and local government play an essential role in controlling undesirable environmental and cultural degradation.  Policy makers can implement controls on how and where new development occurs as well as plan for equitable changes in high growth areas.

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