By Paula Garcia
The 90-10 program, which administered by the Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) through the Acequia Construction Program, has been successfully funding acequia projects for about the past three decades. It is a cost-share program in which state funding covers 90% of the cost of a project with the acequia covering 10%. The funding is also administered so that it can be matched with federal funding, including past funds from the Army Corp of Engineers or more recently available funds through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). ISC funds are also available for low interest loans to acequias to cover their portion of their portion of the cost share or to fund projects generally.
The 90-10 program is funded by the New Mexico State Legislature through the budget process and has received consistent support over many years. It is important to note that in 2013, the legislature approved a change in the program from an 80-20 cost share to a 90-10 cost share. Support for the 90-10 program continued during recent legislative session. HB 2 includes recurring funding to the Interstate Stream Commission for $1.9 million from the Irrigation Works Construction Fund to use for cost share and $300,000 to be used for engineering services.
This program continues to be a vital and essential program for acequia project funding. However, the program as currently structured is dependent on continued recurring funding from the Irrigation Works Construction Fund (IWCF). According to state statute, the Fund is intended for investigations and construction of projects or charges directly chargeable to such projects (Section 72-14-23, NMSA 1978). The IWCF receives about $7-$8 million in revenue from State Trust Lands on an annual basis and all of that funding. That funding plus allocations from the corpus of the fund are appropriated to the Office of the State Engineer and the Interstate Stream Commission. The pending problem with these appropriations is that the corpus of the fund is nearly depleted making future funding for both the OSE/ISC and the acequia program uncertain.
The State Legislature, at some point, will be faced with the decision about how to fund the OSE/ISC when the corpus of the IWCF is depleted and the recurring IWCF funds are not enough to fund the agency. This is important to the future of the Acequia Construction Program at ISC. The NMAA leadership is strongly supportive of continued funding for the acequia program with funds from the IWCF. During the upcoming legislative interim committees, NMAA will be bringing this issue to the attention of policy makers in the hope that a budget solution can be found to properly fund the OSE/ISC and to continue this successful cost-share program for acequias throughout the state.
The acequia program is currently funded for FY 2016 and the budget for FY 2017, pending signature of HB 2 by Governor Susana Martinez, will continue the program. Any acequia or community ditch interested in applying for funding through the ISC 90-10 program should contact Jonathan Martinez at JonathanC.Martinez@state.nm.us or at (505)827-6134.
Information about the program is available online at ISC Programs