Senate panel advances bill overhauling water commission

January 30, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A measure that would overhaul the process for making appointments to a powerful commission charged with protecting, conserving and developing water resources across drought-stricken New Mexico has passed its first legislative hurdle.

A Senate panel voted unanimously Wednesday to advance the proposal, which has been in the works for years.

The sponsor, Democratic Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe, says it’s an effort to limit dramatic swings in water policy by removing the politics from the Interstate Stream Commission.

The panel’s members are currently chosen by the governor. Under the proposal, appointments would be split between the governor and the Legislature.

To broaden the makeup of the commission, appointees also would have to meet certain qualifications. The list calls for engineers and representatives from irrigation districts, utilities and research institutions.