New Mexico Integrated Water Financing Plan

In 2023, former New Mexico-appointed member Rebecca Roose reached out to the WSWC staff to consider the idea of building on previous western state-federal collaborations between WestFAST and state agencies, by developing an Integrated Water Financing Plan in New Mexico.


In 2022, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Water Policy and Infrastructure Task Force, composed of senior state agency staff and water and natural resources experts, representing diverse expertise, geographies, and community interests, published a report on Facing New Mexico’s 21st Century Water Challenges.  The report identified numerous water management challenges and opportunities. On January 30, 2024, Governor Lujan Grisham released New Mexico’s 50-Year Water Action Plan, which took into consideration vital input from nations, tribes, pueblos, acequias, farmers, and other stakeholders. The Plan focuses on expanding water conservation in cities and on farms, developing new water supplies and enhancing water quality protections.

In the meantime, Congress authorized unprecedented levels of funding for water projects and initiatives through the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Although the federal funding combined with state funding has been critical to meet state water needs in the West, many state agencies found a limited capacity to access and utilize those funds within a short timeframe. Previous state-federal collaborations facilitated by WSWC and WestFAST presented an opportunity to increase that capacity.

With the generous support of the Thornburg Foundation, the Water Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, the WSWC was able to contract with SWCA Environmental Consultants to help develop an Integrated Water Financing Plan, to facilitate meetings and information sharing between state agencies, federal agencies, tribes, and local entities, and to ultimately move forward with some of the recommendations in the Water Task Force report.


This project builds on the recommendations in New Mexico’s 50-Year Water Action Plan (2024) and the Water Task Force report (2022). The Integrated Water Financing Plan aims to accelerate progress on these recommendations by:

  • Securing more one-time federal funding for water projects and initiatives.
  • Connecting federal funds to existing and new tribal and state water programs.
  • Developing innovative financing approaches leveraging state, federal, and local resources.

Integrated Water Financing Plan elements:

  • Build on previous efforts, compile water resources activities from relevant state plans and survey results.
  • Identify candidate activities for financing strategy workshops in partnership with state and federal agencies.
  • Collaboratively develop a financing plan for selected activities with a focus on maximizing federal funds.
  • Identify barriers to accessing funds and recommend solutions along with resources for implementation.


A survey was designed to inventory water resource projects, programs, and initiatives that could benefit from federal funding, assess new federal funds already secured in New Mexico, and understand lessons learned from previous efforts to secure federal funding.

Demonstration Projects

Based on the survey and meetings with state and federal agencies, the project executive committee narrowed the focus to three demonstration projects most suitable to the scope of this effort.  The demonstration projects each represent one of the primary themes from the Water Task Force December 2022 Report and also reflect priorities identified in the Governor’s 50-Year Water Action Plan.

  • Water Infrastructure: The Accelerating small community drinking water system regionalization demonstration project will focus on accelerating regionalization of small public water systems. Regionalization for the purposes of this effort is defined as ‘consolidation of water infrastructure or administrative functions across jurisdictions/existing drinking water facilities to improve quality and cost efficiencies.’
  • Water Resources Management and Planning: The Aquifer mapping and monitoring demonstration project will focus on securing one-time funds for drilling of new monitoring wells necessary to characterize and monitor critical aquifers in New Mexico.
  • Watershed Health: Based on the considerations for selection, the Upper Rio Grande Basin Riparian Conservation, Restoration, and Watershed Health Initiative was identified as the watershed health demonstration project. Riparian corridors provide visible representation of the ribbons of life they sustain, and the inspiration for the common name of the Upper Rio Grande Basin Riparian Conservation, Restoration, and Watershed Health Initiative ‘Ribbons of Life’. The goal is to protect and restore “crucial habitat connectivity, with a focus on riparian networks and watersheds, for the well being of people, plants and wildlife” through a robust and effective coalition of partners.



Introductory Webinar

Update and Feedback Session

A series of virtual workshops were held in June and July, bringing together various state and federal agencies and a limited number of stakeholders to discuss the needs and funding opportunities across the three demonstration projects. Building on the lessons from these virtual workshops, New Mexico and WSWC will host an in-person meeting for a larger number of stakeholders in the Fall of 2024.