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Gov. Martinez proposes $2 million for NM Water Resources Research Institute

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez proposed that the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute be funded with an additional $2 million to support research and innovation in water infrastructure in the state.

Tuesday, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Mexico State President Garrey Carruthers, took part in a press conference that announced the allocation of $2 million to the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute.

"The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute serves an invaluable role in our state," Martinez said Tuesday at the WRRI office. "Increased funding will enable the Water Resources Research Institute to expand its mission and meet any additional water research needs associated with drought, water security, water planning and water-quality issues."

The proposed funding for WRRI would be recurring funding through the New Mexico legislature. Martinez recently proposed a $112 million capital investment in New Mexico's water infrastructure, approximately 60 percent of the one-time capital outlay funding that will be available when the New Mexico Legislature convenes in January.

The institute, which was created in 1964 and is housed at New Mexico State University, will distribute the funding to several universities including NMSU, the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Tech.

"This institute was created to serve all of New Mexico and universities around the state," said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, who once served as the director of the institute. "We appreciate the support of Governor Martinez for WRRI and for the important water research work they do."

The proposal will allow the institute to hire researchers, technicians and scientists to address water needs in New Mexico as well as encourage college student-led research projects.

Projects include state-of-the art technology to assess water via satellite images and data collecting technology that will provide current water conditions. The institute will be able to conduct long-term research on pressing issues such as brackish brown water, desalination and water conservation, Martinez said.

Alexander "Sam" Fernald, director of WRRI, said funding would be distributed to universities through competitive grants.

"This will support research at all universities in New Mexico and provide the state with better water research," Fernald said.

The funding will also support the creation of the Center for Water Excellence. The center's main mission would be to promote business solutions and job creation building on water research.

"The center will turn water research into commercial opportunities," Martinez said. "Prize money will be provided to research projects that provide innovative solutions to water needs."

The center will also give high school students the opportunity to compete with entrepreneurial projects that draw private investments and have an impact in the community and economy.

"This will have a great impact in the community and the state, especially if there is continuing funding to allocate to a statewide water assessment, and research into water treatment and watershed management," Fernald said. "This will enable us, NMSU and other universities, to address water issues affecting New Mexico."