Lawmakers wants to change water utility authority into an elected board

Water utility authority working on 100 year plan for Albuquerque

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – One lawmaker wants you to vote for the people who makes decisions about your water. He’s pushing a bill, still alive in the House, which would turn the Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority into an elected board. He says, right now, some residents don’t don’t have a say at all.

“We know where our water’s going to come from for the next 100 years,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis.

Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Rob Perry calls the board “a shining star of good government here in New Mexico.”

The Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority Board makes decisions about where your water comes from and how much you pay for it.

Members say, so far, they have a solid track record.

“The reason why this board works so well right now is that city and county must look at development and water as one comprehensive package,” said Davis.

It’s made up of three county commissioners, three city councilors and a representative from the mayor’s office.

But there are gaps in representation, like in the south valley where the water treatment plant is located and also in the northeast heights.

“The problem lies in the unincorporated parts of Bernalillo county,” said democratic Representative Andres Romero.

Romero wants to change that. He represents part of the South Valley.

“My bill would ensure there’s consistent representation with all rate payers within Bernalillo County,” said Romero.

He sponsors House Bill 468– a bill to overhaul the Albuquerque Bernalillo Water Utility Authority Board. It would do away with the seven appointed positions in lieu of elected seats.

“One member for each county commission district and there are five county commission districts,” explained Romero.

The bill would also create four-year terms for members, instead of having new ones appointed each year.

“You’d have a consistent board,” Romero said.

Romero says the bill aims to place more weight on the board’s responsibility to taxpayers, by allowing them to elect individuals without existing positions in local government.

“A new board might not work as well with the city and county and might make development harder, it might make our water resources harder to access and manage,” said Davis.

Skeptics say their current positions are what make the board so successful.

“I wouldn’t want to see anyone take away something that has been really working as positively,” said Perry.

Perry says the board currently has a number experts working for them and fears, without them, the board could become muddled in politics.

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