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N.M. Delegation Announces $60 Million from Inflation Reduction Act to Strengthen Water Security in the Rio Grande

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) are announcing $60 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to help Doña Ana and Sierra County residents and farmers with drought mitigation and climate adaptation efforts, which will strengthen water security in the Rio Grande Basin. 

“New Mexicans are regularly seeing the effects of climate change and long-term aridification on the Rio Grande. Shorter irrigation seasons and an increased reliance on groundwater pumping demonstrate the dramatic changes the Rio Grande has undergone as our water resources decline,” said Heinrich. “This major investment, made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act, will give our communities more tools to protect the Rio Grande by prioritizing aquifer recharge, improving and reducing irrigation demands, and improving riparian habitat.” 

"In New Mexico and across the West, our communities are experiencing the impacts of drought and climate change. I am proud that the Inflation Reduction Act that I helped pass into law will be put to work to mitigate the impact of drought on the Rio Grande Basin which is critical for New Mexico and neighboring states," said Luján. "This $60 million investment will go a long way to address drought and protect our resources for years to come." 

“When water flows, New Mexico grows,” said Leger Fernández. “As the effects of climate change continue to damage ecosystems and dramatically alter weather conditions, it is our duty to protect beautiful and significant parts of our state like the Rio Grande Basin. This funding will bring $60 million in federal dollars Congress passed and President Biden signed into law to do just that. We are grateful Secretary Haaland understands the importance of protecting this vital resource.” 

"As all New Mexicans know — water is life. We need water to fight drought, slow wildfire damage, and support agriculture communities," said Stansbury. "We need stable access to clean water to tackle our nation's biggest water challenges. This funding from the Inflation Reduction Act means communities in New Mexico will now have more resources to protect the Rio Grande and the clean, essential water supply it brings to the state. I was proud to support this transformational piece of legislation that is creating lasting, generational change across our state." 

“The Rio Grande connects us all as communities, from north to south. It’s the lifeblood of our state providing both the surface water and opportunities for agricultural producers to make a living,” said Vasquez. “As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I understand how critical this funding is protecting the Rio and ensuring everyone from our dairies in Anthony to our small farmers in the South Valley can continue doing what they do best. Our New Mexican families and farmers deserve clean water and a healthy Rio.” 


This funding announcement comes on the heels of several recent pushes by the delegation urging the Biden administration to support drought mitigation efforts, particularly for the Rio Grande, including an April letter that calls on the administration to make further investments to address long-term drought caused by climate change.  

In December, Heinrich and Luján called on U.S. Secretary of the Interior (DOI) Deb Haaland to develop a robust and comprehensive funding plan to support drought mitigation and climate adaptation efforts in the Rio Grande Basin. In the letter, the senators asked Haaland to ensure DOI works with water users and stakeholders, including local governments, Tribes and Pueblos, traditional use communities, farmers, and producers within the basin to develop a plan that builds on existing programs and invests in locally-led efforts. 

In 2022, Heinrich and Luján wrote to DOI Assistant Secretary Tanya Trujillo requesting that DOI allocate funds appropriated by the Inflation Reduction Act to support drought mitigation, resilience, and Tribal and Pueblo irrigation and water needs in the Rio Grande Basin. The Rio Grande is a critical natural resource in New Mexico, supporting the water needs of agriculture, recreation, municipalities, 22 Native tribes, and industry, as well as endangered species and a unique riparian ecosystem.