IF YOU GO

What: Water and Natural Resources Committee and Drought Subcommittee meeting

When: Aug. 28 to 30

Where: The San Juan College Henderson Fine Arts Center, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington

Price: Free

FARMINGTON — The state's senators and representatives will meet in Farmington next week to discuss one of the most important issues affecting New Mexico: water.

The state's Water and Natural Resources Committee and the Drought Subcommittee will meet Aug. 28 to 30 at San Juan College to discuss several issues including water use, fracking and water infrastructure funding.

Committee chairman Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, encouraged the public to attend.

"You have citizens there (in Farmington), retired engineers, experts, who may have some ideas," he said. "It's always critical that the public attends."

Mayor Tommy Roberts said the committee meetings are important because they bring state legislators face-to-face with the issues affecting communities throughout New Mexico.

Roberts said he has not been asked to address the committee, but he added that it is a valuable opportunity to get state legislators acquainted with the Farmington area.

"They seem interested in learning about these outlying areas," he said. "The Rio Grande corridor, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Las Cruces are the most represented areas of our state by virtue of population. There's a disconnect when it comes to the rural communities outside of the Rio Grande corridor."

Roberts said that inviting legislators from around the state to visit areas like Farmington gives them a clearer picture of the issues facing each community.

And Griego said the committee meetings help legislators identify issues so they can more effectively draft useful legislation.

"The future of water (in New Mexico) is going to depend on the equitable solutions arrived at by water users associations and by the judiciary," he said. "We need to figure out how to distribute water on an equitable level, how to supply water to priority users, the Native Americans, and to outside communities."

Griego said state officials need to begin thinking creatively and suggested that piping water from the Mississippi River drainage states could be a solution.

"They have an overabundance of water flow in the Midwest," he said. "I think that's the future of New Mexico, Arizona and other southwestern states -- working with our midwestern brothers and sisters."

As water rights disputes heat up, they will affect the state's larger communities, Griego said.

"This is important for our irrigation projects if not for anything else," he said. "If we don't take care of our rural communities, it's going to start affecting our urban communities."

Greg Yee covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and gyee@daily-times.com. Follow him @GYeeDT on Twitter.