"I don't have any agendas," says Commissioner Eluid Martinez, who worked as New Mexico's state engineer for four years. "I just want to do a good job for the West."
But environmentalists worry that if he does make waves, they might slosh in the wrong direction. They're concerned about his support for selling off small-scale water projects, and point to the 21 years he worked under the former New Mexico state engineer, Steve Reynolds, whom Martinez calls "the last of the great water buffaloes of the West."
"I learned just about everything I know about water administration from (Reynolds)," says Martinez.
That has David Henderson, director of the New Mexico state Audubon Society, concerned. "I never saw him as much of an administrator and now he's running a big agency," he says. However, Martinez supported an unsuccessful attempt to pass an instream flow law for New Mexico, Henderson says.
Martinez, in an interview, said he also sometimes crossed developers in New Mexico, halting one water-guzzling golf course and housing development near Taos. As for Animas-LaPlata, the West's long-delayed last dam, Martinez said while he supported it as a state engineer, he preferred not to comment as head of BuRec.