Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments
The Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments (NWNMCOG) is a voluntary association of local units of government, serving as the regional planning organization for the northwest corner of New Mexico, also known as State Planning and Development District I. As such, it serves as one of seven such districts in the state, which were formed by state statute. For twenty years, the organization was known as the “McKinley Area Council of Governments,” but in 1988 the local governments in Cibola and San Juan Counties became members, thus expanding the organization into its present format as the “Northwest New Mexico” COG.
In 1989, the Council of Governments created the region’s first Federally sponsored Overall Economic Development Program (OEDP), resulting in its designation in 1990 by the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, as an official Economic Development District. It is the District’s responsibility to update this regional OEDP on an annual basis.
The Northwest New Mexico planning district spans over 15,000 square miles of highland plateau country and encompasses a population of over 200,000, about one-half of whom are members of one of four sovereign Native American nations: the Navajo Nation; the Pueblo of Zuni; the Pueblo of Acoma; and the Pueblo of Laguna. Most of the region’s land base is comprised of public lands (including Federal Indian reservations), and approximately one-half of the region’s population lives in non-municipal rural communities.
The Council of Governments is composed of dues-paying governmental members, each of whom designates one or more representatives to serve on the Board of Directors. Number of representatives is related to the amount paid annually in membership dues. For the Northwest New Mexico district, the following are members:
- The County of Cibola (2 Board representatives)
- The Village of Milan (1 Board representative)
- The City of Grants (2 Board representatives)
- The County of McKinley (2 Board representatives)
- The City of Gallup (3 Board representatives)
- The County of San Juan (1 Board representative)
- The City of Aztec (1 Board representative)
- The City of Bloomfield (1 Board representative)
- The City of Farmington (3 Board representatives)
- Ramah Water and Sanitation District (1 Board representative)
- Rio San Jose Flood Control District (1 Board representative)
- Crownpoint Navajo Chapter (1 Board representative)
The State Highway Commissioners for District 5 and 6 are ex officio members. When all representative positions are filled, the Board has 19 voting members and the two ex officio members.
Programs and Services Provided
The Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments, headquartered in the bustling commercial hub of Gallup, New Mexico, has moved far beyond its initial role as a Federal and State grant clearinghouse, providing programs and services in the following areas:
- Regional Transportation Planning – the NWNMCOG serves as the State-appointed “Regional Planning Organization” (RPO) for the coordination of transportation planning and project development in the northwest New Mexico district.
- Regional Water Planning – with funding assistance from the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, the NWNMCOG coordinates inter-agency regional water planning efforts for New Mexico Water Planning Region 6, comprising Cibola County and the portion of McKinley County not in the San Juan Basin
- Water Project Development – under assignment by its governmental members and in partnership with the US Bureau of Reclamation, the NWNMCOG coordinates the development of major water supply projects to potentially serve communities in the northwest New Mexico region, including the Navajo/Gallup Water Supply Project and the Gallup/Mt. Taylor Water Supply Project
- Infrastructure Capital Improvement Planning – in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Finance & Administration, Local Government Division, the NWNMCOG provides technical assistance to local governments in the preparation and submission of annual Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plans (ICIP’s) for utilization in setting local priorities and in obtaining State funding for infrastructure projects
- Economic Development Planning – with funding assistance from the Economic Development Administration, the NWNMCOG staffs and coordinates the “Overall Economic Development Program” (OEDP) for the region, resulting in annual updates of the regional Economic Development Plan
- Community Empowerment Initiatives – with funding assistance from The Ford Foundation and other agencies, the NWNMCOG works to promote community development in rural and small town neighborhoods and communities and coordinates the establishment of partnerships and funding streams to support local initiatives
- Statistical Data Clearinghouse – the NWNMCOG compiles demographic and other statistical information from the US Census and from other sources annually, publishes an annual regional Factbook and utilizes and provides data to individuals and agencies for a variety of community development purposes
- Services to Local Governments – as a membership association, the NWNMCOG provides services to its members as outlined in annual work plans, as well as on a request-for-service basis; these services include grantsmanship, comprehensive community planning, organizational strategic planning and development, project development and other kinds of technical assistance as needed by each local government