State Agencies Supporting Water System Partnerships
New Mexico Environment Department (NMED)
New Mexico Finance Authority
State Policies and Programs Regarding Water System Partnerships
DWSRF PRIORITIZATION OF CONSOLIDATION PROJECTS
According to New Mexico’s DWSRF IUP for SFY 2017, one of its program's long term goals is to encourage consolidation and regionalization. As a result, priority is given via a ranking system to projects that: address system consolidation or regionalization, expand service to areas not currently served by a water system, add a back-up source by interconnection, or involve regional resource coordination.
CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY TO PROMOTE REGIONALIZATION
According to Mexico’s 2014 Capacity Development Report to the Governor, the state’s capacity development strategy has been revised in ways that further promote regionalization. These revisions include:
- “a community planning focus through the inclusion and development of the Source Water and Wellhead Protection Program to include other planning objectives best addressed in a community setting that incorporates public feedback such as emergency response, water conservation, drought contingency planning, and regionalization opportunities” and
“promotion of an expansion of the term ‘regionalization’ to include any collaboration of operations, management, or infrastructure between neighboring systems and increasing outreach on the potential for PWS to collaborate in all capacity development topics.”
TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE EMPHASIZING PARTNERSHIPS
The Drinking Water Bureau (DWB) of the NMED provides assistance to PWSs through the Community Services Program. The Community Services Team provides free managerial and financial assistance to PWSs through various activities including the facilitation of regional coordination with other systems. The Community Services Program also facilitates partnership-building workshops which involve a session with hands-on exercises regarding various TMF topics and a follow-on session where water systems work together on a regional collaboration activity. These workshops can identify opportunities for cost savings and collaboration and provide NMED insight into what type of collaboration model the systems are willing to participate in.
NEW SYSTEMS MUST CONSIDER INTERCONNECTION TO EXISTING SYSTEMS
The DWB requires additional information to be submitted with applications for the construction of new PWSs. The proposed system must demonstrate adequate capacity, which includes explaining why consolidation with a nearby system is not feasible.
PROPOSED LEGISLATION TO ALLOW CREATION OF REGIONAL WATER AUTHORITIES
In 2016, the Regional Water Utility Authority Act was introduced to the New Mexico House of Representatives, which would allow for the creation of regional water utility authorities. According to the proposed bill, a regional water utility may be established to plan, develop, manage, maintain, or coordinate regional water and wastewater facilities.
The Sanitary Projects Act (SPA) governs the formation of Mutual Domestic Water Consumer Associations (MDWCA). There are approximately 200 of these water systems in the state. Under the 2006 revisions to the SPA, a new MDWCA cannot be formed if it is adjacent to a municipal water system that is able to provide water to the proposed service area of the new system at or below the cost of the new system.
Helpful Links to State Resources
- Drinking Water Program: https://www.env.nm.gov/drinking_water/
- Drinking Water Bureau: Managerial and Financial Assistance: https://www.env.nm.gov/dwb/mfa.htm
- Capacity Development: https://www.env.nm.gov/drinking_water/dwb-assistance/
- Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund: http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/dwb/loan_fund/Index.htm
- Drinking Water Laws and Regulations: https://www.env.nm.gov/dwb/regulations/index.htm
- Proposed bill: https://www.nmlegis.gov/Legislation/Legislation?chamber=H&legtype=B&legno=196&year=16
The Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority (PWWA) started with the merger of five mutual domestic associations in 2009. Today, the Lower Rio Grande PWWA includes nine water systems, serves 16 communities, and recognizes such benefits as a larger customer base to share costs, increased purchasing power, and a larger pool of available resources, among other benefits. More information on examples of regionalization in New Mexico can be found in the slides and speakers notes from a 2012 EPA-USDA Webinar Series on partnerships: https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/sites/static/files/2016-01/documents/troubleshooting_partnerships_speaker_notes_final_website_version.pdf.