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IMPROVING NEW MEXICO’S WATER MANAGEMENT - page 39 / 47

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economics is underlying incentive. A farmer will adopt water conservation if it makes economic

sense.

Other conservation programs concentrate on water providers and water utilities. By

reducing losses and leakages, water providers can lower water diversions by as much as 20%.

Programs such as ditch lining and water pipe rehabilitation are expensive and these programs

need federal and state assistance to work.

Metering of water uses is a necessary water conservation program. It is the basis for more

efficient water management. Metering provides quantitative metrics to guide a farmer’s,

homeowner’s and municipality’s water use. Metering more precisely measures regional and state

water budgets and is necessary to enforce effective administration of water rights. Metering

allows for accurate measure of the amount of water saved by implementation of other

conservation measures and has been demonstrated to significantly reduce water use by as much

as 20 percent in some studies.

V. A Water Conservation Fee

We propose that the state should impose a water conservation fee on all uses of water.

The benefits of a water conservation charge are several-fold. Charging a fee increases awareness

of water use, which in turn leads to conservation. If the fee is set at a sufficient level, it can

provide an incentive for conservation. Thirdly, the funds generated by a fee can be used to

address water related needs in the state. Though fees or new taxes are unpopular, a user fee on

water is very necessary.

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