New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s announcement of a first-of-its-kind Strategic Water Supply is exactly the kind of ambitious and innovative public-private partnership the U.S. needs to build a better energy future.

The announcement, made at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Dubai, proposes a $500 million investment to ensure New Mexico has the water it needs for drinking, drought resilience and to prepare for future hydrogen production and other clean energy manufacturing with high water requirements.

The Governor’s plan innovates financially and technically. In addition to seeking to convert New Mexico’s brackish water supplies to a quality suitable for human consumption and agricultural use, the plan also looks to turn water that is an energy byproduct into an essential ingredient for future hydrogen production and clean energy applications.

In 2022, New Mexico natural gas and oil operations produced more than 2 billion barrels of water, 60% of which was injected into wells. The Strategic Water Supply envisions upcycling a portion of that water into feedstock for hydrogen production and clean energy manufacturing processes. For example, using 3% of the 2022 water production could lead to enough energy to power 2 million homes a year, more than double the number in the state.

Financially, the Governor’s proposal will make the State of New Mexico a guaranteed customer for the treated water resources through what is known as an advanced market commitment. With the strength of the State as a counterparty, private sector investors will be able to reduce their capital risk to develop the required infrastructure, and obtain private sector financing.

As advocates for using our existing natural gas resources as a way to generate lasting rural economic development, tribal self-determination and global environmental improvement, WSTN supports Gov. Lujan Grisham’s vision and practical approach. Public-private sector solutions like these which tackle the obstacles and realities of our present with the goal of finding a faster route to the future are in the DNA of the United States — think of the space race, the railroads to the Pacific or the Atomic age, in which New Mexico played a central role.

New Mexico’s history-making vision for its water supply shares this scope of ambition, and deserves support in principle and practice.