At risk: 88% of New Mexico’s rivers and streams

Shortsighted legal decisions have left 88% of New Mexico’s rivers and streams vulnerable to dumping and irresponsible development, which impacts the drinking water for over 280,000 New Mexicans. Polluters can dump garbage into streams, developers can pave over wetlands to build strip malls, and the cops on the environmental beat can’t do a thing about it. And it’s not just small streams and wetlands that will suffer — these waterways are the same ones that feed the Gila River and the Rio Grande and help to keep them clean.

Polluters poke holes in Clean Water Act

For nearly 40 years, the Clean Water Act has helped New Mexico — and states across the nation — care for and clean up our waterways. Thanks in large part to this groundbreaking law, rivers are no longer so polluted that they catch fire, as Ohio’s Cuyahoga infamously did in 1969. Still, much work remains to be done. Our report, “Wasting our Waterways” found that polluters dumped 56,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into New Mexico’s rivers in a single year. We need to do more to protect our waters — not less. 

Unfortunately, over the past decade, polluters have used the courts to put Clean Water Act protections in legal limbo, arguing that the law doesn’t cover the smaller streams and wetlands that feed and clean the Gila, the Rio Grande, and all of New Mexico’s rivers. They want to throw out nearly 40 years of Clean Water Act protection, leaving polluting industries free to dump into our streams and pave over our wetlands without asking for permission.

The EPA can protect our waterways — but Congress threatens to stand in the way

Since 2006, we have been urging Congress to protect our rivers, streams, and waterways by simply declaring that the Clean Water Act applies to all of New Mexico’s — and America’s — waters. But, stymied at every turn by industry lobbyists and powerful special interests, we turned instead to the EPA for action. 

This spring, with our sister organizations around the country, we submitted more than 100,000 petitions to Administrator Lisa Jackson, urging her to restore protections to all of our waters. In April, she announced a plan to do just that. But polluters’ allies in Congress won’t give up — and now they’re threatening to stop the EPA from doing its job. 

At the same time, powerful corporate interests are preparing for battle: ExxonMobil threatened “legal warfare” if the EPA moves forward with its plan to restore Clean Water Act protections. 

Our plan to defend New Mexico’s rivers

We refuse to let polluters and their allies in Congress open our precious waterways to more dumping and development. We’re bringing together New Mexicans from all walks of life to protect the Gila, Rio Grande, and all of our rivers. From anglers to whitewater enthusiasts, clergy to scientists, local officials to ordinary families, we're all invested in keeping our water clean. 

Our citizen outreach staff has knocked on doors across the state, educating New Mexicans about what’s at stake. 

With thousands of New Mexicans visiting our state’s rivers each year to raft, kayak, or fish, it’s no wonder so many people are standing up for clean water. But if we’re going to push past ExxonMobil and other powerful polluters, we’re going to need everyone who cares about New Mexico’s waterways to get involved. Join our campaign by sending the EPA a message today. 

clean water updates

News Release | Environment New Mexico

EPA Proposes Biggest Step for Clean Water in a Decade

In the biggest step forward for clean water in more than a decade, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that leave 88 percent of New Mexico’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands at risk of unchecked pollution and developmen

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News Release | Environment New Mexico

Obama Administration Should Use Sound Science to Protect New Mexico’s Waterways

Today, the Obama administration has taken a significant step forward in clarifying the science connecting America’s waterways and the drinking water for millions across the country.

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News Release | Environment New Mexico Research and Policy Center

Nearly 50,000 Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Dumped into New Mexico’s Waterways

Santa Fe, NM--Industrial facilities dumped 49,786 pounds of toxic chemicals into New Mexico’s waterways,” according to a new report released today by Environment New Mexico. Wasting Our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act also found that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the country.

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Report | Environment New Mexico Research and Policy Center

Wasting Our Waterways

Toxic Industrial Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Water Act

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News Release | Environment New Mexico

Landmark Clean Water Announcement

Environment New Mexico hailed the Obama administration for releasing a proposed guidance that, if adopted, would restore Clean Water Act protections to vital streams across New Mexico and protect New Mexicans’ drinking water.  One of America’s core environmental laws, the original Clean Water Act was intended to protect all of our waters from harmful pollution.  “New Mexicans want clean water. In fact, whenever I talk to people across New Mexico  about this issue, they are simply appalled to learn that the Clean Water Act might no longer protect their favorite local stream,” said Sanders Moore, Advocate at Environment New Mexico.  

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