New Mexico joins nation-wide challenge to protect and restore water resources

New Mexico has joined the America the Beautiful Freshwater Challenge, a national partnership effort to conserve and restore freshwater resources.  President Joe Biden announced the challenge in April as part of the Earth Week celebrations. The goal is to “protect, restore, and reconnect 8 million acres of wetlands and 100,000 miles of our nation’s rivers […]

New Mexico joins nation-wide challenge to protect and restore water resources

New Mexico has joined the America the Beautiful Freshwater Challenge, a national partnership effort to conserve and restore freshwater resources. 

President Joe Biden announced the challenge in April as part of the Earth Week celebrations. The goal is to “protect, restore, and reconnect 8 million acres of wetlands and 100,000 miles of our nation’s rivers and streams by 2030,” according to a press release from April.

White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory explained, during a visit to Albuquerque on Thursday, that New Mexico’s waterways will receive more focus.. A map behind her showed areas of the state where waterways are no longer protected under the Clean Water Act due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Sackett decision. This includes ephemeral waterways as well as places like the Jemez River that run dry before connecting with larger waterways.

The Sackett decision led American Rivers to list New Mexico’s waterways as the “most endangered river” this year. In addition to the impacts of the Sackett decision, New Mexico is one of the states without its own surface water permitting system.

Mallory said that coordinated efforts are key in areas like New Mexico where the impacts of the Sackett decision are so great.

“New Mexico is doing a lot all by itself. But having the ability to get additional focus or sending in additional resources as they’re available, is really going to be a really important part to the success,” she said.

Joining the America the Beautiful Freshwater Challenge does not necessarily mean more funding will be available to New Mexico. However, Mallory said it might make New Mexico more competitive in the future as it pursues federal resources. She said that the federal government, knowing that there’s already groundwork being done in New Mexico to restore and protect waters, may see funding projects in the state as having a greater potential impact compared to some other parts of the country.

“We are all working together to make sure we can continue to protect water,” Tanya Trujillo, the deputy state engineer, said.

She said that New Mexico is facing many challenges with water, including both drought and flooding.

“We have to be able to take care and manage our waters during all of the conditions that we may see,” Trujillo said.

The states, local governments, Tribal entities, businesses and nonprofits that have joined the challenge all agree to a set of commitments to restore and connect wetlands and waters.

One of the original members of the partnership was the Navajo Nation.

“To Navajos and all Indigenous people, water is a sacred element,” President Buu Nygren said in a statement in April. “We in the Southwest, and especially Navajos, are aware daily how precious water is to our life, our livestock, our crops, wildlife and the natural world all around us. We are pleased to join the Biden-Harris Administration in this initiative.”

Some of the other partners include Colorado, Amigos Bravos, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Audubon Society, New Mexico Wild, Patagonia, the Rio Grande International Study Center and Trout Unlimited.

“But New Mexico waters are in peril. We are in the eye of a perfect storm. We are in an arid state to begin with. And climate change is hitting us hard. Today 66 percent of our state is in drought conditions,” Tannis Fox with the Western Environmental Law Center said during the event in Albuquerque.

She said that while the majority of waterways in New Mexico do not run year round, they play important roles.

Speakers highlighted how contamination released into ephemeral waterways can jeopardize the water quality in acequias and even in waters that remain protected under the Clean Water Act.

New Mexico’s participation in the challenge complements actions that are outlined in the 50-year water plan unveiled in January.

“We’re going to be able to continue to implement our water quality protection programs, both surface water and groundwater, develop the necessary regulations that it’s going to take to make sure we can do those right and to do things like take care of our watersheds,” Trujillo told NM Political Report.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

The two issues passed were only a fraction of what Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had on her special session agenda.
House votes to pass bill for fire relief, behavioral health treatments

House votes to pass bill for fire relief, behavioral health treatments

The House voted overwhelmingly to pass HB 1, the appropriations bill that provides funding for the special session, fire relief and behavioral health court…
Senate Democrats criticize bills and process, GOP introduces bills

Senate Democrats criticize bills and process, GOP introduces bills

The special session began with Democrats criticizing Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s agenda and Republicans applauding it, while Senators introduced 16 pieces of legislation. The…
Downwinders continue to seek justice 79 years after the Trinity Test

Downwinders continue to seek justice 79 years after the Trinity Test

For most of his life, Paul Pino believed his community had dodged the bullet when it came to nuclear fallout. It wasn’t until he’d…
Fight continues over San Juan Generating Station replacement resources

Fight continues over San Juan Generating Station replacement resources

As the San Juan Generating Station closed in 2022, the Central Consolidated School District noted a significant increase in homelessness among its students. At…
Group says WQCC member has conflicts of interest

Group says WQCC member has conflicts of interest

New Energy Economy and other environmental advocates renewed a call for a member of the Water Quality Control Commission to recuse herself from hearing…
Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding. Stansbury,…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

Some mental health issues on the rise in New Mexico

A recent report by KFF, a foundation that provides health policy analysis, found mental health issues on the rise and disparities in mental health…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Heinrich files amendment to protect reproductive rights for the military

Heinrich files amendment to protect reproductive rights for the military

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich filed an amendment on Tuesday to codify a rule protecting veteran access to abortion in the case of rape, incest…
Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the high court overturned another long-standing precedent on Friday that could undue both…
Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

The Supreme Court punted on Thursday on a second abortion decision it heard this term, leaving open the question of whether a federal law…
Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Supreme Court upends environmental and reproductive rights protections

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the high court overturned another long-standing precedent on Friday that could undue both…
Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

Supreme Court dismisses abortion case, advocates say it keeps legal questions open

The Supreme Court punted on Thursday on a second abortion decision it heard this term, leaving open the question of whether a federal law…
Biden will protect reproductive access, Health Secretary says during a multi-state reproductive access tour 

Biden will protect reproductive access, Health Secretary says during a multi-state reproductive access tour 

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at a Planned Parenthood space for LGBTQ youth in Albuquerque that if President Joe Biden…
Politics Newsletter: Should Biden stay or should he go?

Politics Newsletter: Should Biden stay or should he go?

Note: This newsletter was written prior to the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump on Saturday. Hello fellow political junkies! While most people…
NM delegation votes against bill they say will disenfranchise voters

NM delegation votes against bill they say will disenfranchise voters

The House passed a bill that opponents of the bill, including all three members of New Mexico’s delegation, say would suppress voting. The Safeguard…
Leger Fernàndez votes against voter ID bill

Leger Fernàndez votes against voter ID bill

The Safeguard American Voter Eligibility Act seeks to require proof of United States citizenship to register to vote in federal elections, but opponents say…
Heinrich, Vasquez call on Biden to withdraw from campaign

Heinrich, Vasquez call on Biden to withdraw from campaign

The U.S. Senator and congressman each said Joe Biden should step aside for a new candidate. Meanwhile, another of the state's representatives backed Biden.
Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

Legislators pass disaster assistance funding, end special session quickly

The two issues passed were only a fraction of what Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had on her special session agenda.
Special session to start, despite legislative opposition

Special session to start, despite legislative opposition

“We’re asking lawmakers to do right by New Mexico, to do right by all of our cities and counties and to create the kind…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report