Wednesday night, New Mexico’s largest water utility agreed to sell water to the federal government to boost flows in the Rio Grande through the end of the year. Under the one-time lease, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will pay the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority $2 million for 20,000 acre feet of water stored in Abiquiu Reservoir. The water will be used to keep the river flowing from below Cochiti Dam, through Albuquerque and downstream of the Isleta Diversion Dam. During the meeting, John Stomp, chief operating officer of the water authority, assured board members it has that water to spare. “The reason we’re able to do this is we have managed our supplies really well in the past,” Stomp said.
ByElissa Nuñez and Amy Molloy, Center for Public Integrity |
WASHINGTON, D.C. – When Ceon Dubose Palmore got thirsty at school, an administrator had to escort the 15-year-old past trash-bag-covered fountains to a faucet two floors down. This report is part of a project on drinking water contamination in the United States produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. Like many schools across the country, her Washington, D.C. middle school discovered lead in its drinking water, making most fountains unsafe to drink. It took months to install filters sporadically around the school. Ceon rarely asked to get a drink from the working fountains since teachers didn’t want kids disrupting class time.
An investigation found areas in New Mexico with lead levels that exceed national levels of allowable lead in water. And even those numbers appear to understate the issue. In the wake of the Flint water crisis, when a governor-appointed city manager changed the water source to the city resulting in incredibly high levels of lead in drinking water, many are paying more attention to the problems of lead in water. An Associated Press investigation found 17 entities with levels higher than federal levels in New Mexico, according to a review of the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) database. The Centers for Disease Control wrote in a 2012 report “no safe blood lead threshold in children has been identified.” Lead exposure can lead to “an adverse health effect such as IQ loss.” It can also have neurotoxic effects in both adults and children.