Friday evening in Clovis, the U.S. Air Force is scheduled to host a meeting about groundwater contamination below and near Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico. Details about the meeting were publicly released Tuesday, Nov. 6, on Election Day. This summer, the Air Force announced it was sampling groundwater wells for traces of harmful chemicals found within firefighting foam used at the base from the 1970s until last year. The testing was part of a nationwide effort by the military: Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that activities at 126 military bases had contaminated groundwater with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of human-made chemicals, often referred to as PFAS’s, that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).
The Colorado River supplies water to seven states, including New Mexico, before crossing the border into Mexico. Then—theoretically, nowadays—it reaches the Sea of Cortez. Demands from cities and farms, along with climate change, strain the river and affect its flows. Now, a new study shows that even though annual precipitation increased slightly between 1916 and 2014, Colorado River flows declined by 16.5 percent during that same time period. That’s thanks, in large part, to “unprecedented basin-wide warming.” Warming reduces snowpack and increases the amount of water plants demand.
Jeff Witte is the state secretary of agriculture. He grew up on a ranch in northern New Mexico. National Farmers Market Week this week got me thinking about the economic and cultural importance of not just the state’s 75 farmers markets, but of New Mexico agriculture more broadly. On the economics side, New Mexico agriculture is a $4 billion-a-year sector. But the true financial impact of agriculture in the state is much bigger.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]ELEANOR BRAVO is a Senior Organizer for Food & Water Watch, overseeing operations in New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. Ms. Bravo has over 30 years of experience with activism and political organizing and is also a certified mediator with a focus on divorce & child custody, environmental issues, and alternative dispute resolution in the workplace.[/box]
Factory farms are at it again. Predictably, the industrial agriculture lobby is making its practically perennial effort to place itself above the law by bending the ears of New Mexico legislators. State Sens. Cliff Pirtle and Phil Griego have introduced separate pieces of legislation that aim to amend the “right-to-farm” act to exempt agricultural operations from being deemed a nuisance.