September 28, 2018

NM Environment Review: New Mexico water, including a fish dieoff in the Pecos

Laura Paskus

A boater and his pal at Elephant Butte Reservoir earlier this month

In the past week, we’ve published a series of three stories about the Rio Grande, Elephant Butte reservoir and the U.S. Supreme Court case over the waters of the Rio Grande.

In just one sentence, here’s the gist of the three stories: New Mexico squeaked through a really bad water year—a historically bad water year—but that’s not always going to be possible, especially if the headwaters of the Rio Grande have another dry winter.

Part 1: NM’s reservoirs weathered this year. But what will happen next year?

Part 2: As warming strains NM’s water supplies, ‘status quo’ no longer works

Part 3: As NM’s water situation worsens, SCOTUS battle over the Rio Grande intensifies

• Low flows aren’t unique to the Rio Grande. On Tuesday, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish announced there was a fish dieoff in the Upper Pecos River, that was due to low river flows and poor water quality. It’s mostly brown and rainbow trout, and NMDGF warned there could be more dieoffs through the fall as the browns spawn and the river flows continue to be very low.

• The state is still trying to understand and clean up groundwater contamination in Española. The Rio Grande Sun’s Austin Fisher writes about the ongoing impacts of a decades’-old spill discovered 29 years ago.

• Meanwhile, the state is also dealing with contaminated groundwater from the shuttered Eagle Picher Carefree Battery plant north of SocorroEl Defensor Chieftain Editor Scott Turner has that story.

All week, we track environment news around the western United States, finding the most important stories and new studies you need to read to understand what’s happening with water, climate, energy, landscapes and communities around New Mexico. Then Thursday morning, you get that news in your Inbox.

This is just some of the news subscribers read this week. To join up, subscribe to that weekly email here.