SANTA FE, N.M.—Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's choice as New Mexico top water manager has won unanimous confirmation in the Senate.

Scott Verhines was named state engineer in 2011 by the governor. He is a civil engineer from Albuquerque with more than 30 years of experience on water projects.

Senators on Friday praised Verhines' qualifications and said his job is critical in the drought-plagued state.

Verhines earned an undergraduate degree in civil engineering in 1979 from Texas Tech University. He has master's degrees in civil engineering and business administration from the University of New Mexico.

The state engineer oversees the water allocations for ranchers, farmers, cities and industry, and protects New Mexico's rights to water in rivers and streams crossing state boundaries.