Protect New Mexico Waters

New Mexico is full of


But under a 2023 Supreme Court ruling, New Mexico’s rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands are at risk like never before.

Watch the video and sign the petition to protect New Mexico’s waters!


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The 2020 Dirty Water Rule, combined with other federal rollbacks, strips Clean Water Act protections from more than 90% of New Mexico’s waterways.

= Unprotected Waters
= Protected Waters

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From drinking water and cultural ceremonies to acequia farming and outdoor recreation, clean water supports all aspects of life in New Mexico. Water is a precious resource everywhere, but its importance is magnified in New Mexico’s arid climate.

New Mexico’s robust outdoor recreation and agriculture economies rely on clean water and watersheds.

The Threat

The 2023 Supreme Court ruling removes federal Clean Water Act protections for most of New Mexico’s waterways overall and almost ALL of our waterways that do not flow year-round.


The ruling negatively impacts New Mexico more than any state in the nation. The ruling removes federal Clean Water Act protections for the vast majority of waterways in New Mexico because:


  • The ruling eliminates protections for all waters except those that are considered “relatively permanent.” For New Mexico, where 96% of our waters don’t flow year-round, this is devastating.  


  • The ruling eliminates protections for wetlands that do not have a “continuous surface water connection” to “relatively permanent” waters.

New Mexico is one of only three states that does not have a state program in place to control the dumping of contaminants into state waters. Urge the NM Legislature to establish and fund a state surface water pollution control program to protect New Mexico’s rivers, streams, and wetlands.

Spotlight on Threatened Waterways of New Mexico

The Gila River: A Dirty Water Rule Case Study

The Dirty Water Rule directly threatens some of New Mexico’s larger iconic rivers that cross into a neighboring state, such as the Gila River in the south and the north’s Rio Costilla. This video takes a closer look at what unprotected water in the Gila River means for drinking water, irrigators, and the growing recreation-based economy of southwestern New Mexico.


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Indigenous and Land-Based Communities

Tribes, pueblos, and traditional land-based communities rely on freshwater for ceremonial purposes and to feed their families. The waterways that deliver this water lost protections under the 2023 Supreme Court ruling.


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New Mexico’s Farming and Acequia Culture

Stream and acequia networks that support multi-generational farms make up the vast majority of waterways in New Mexico. These waterways are threatened by unregulated dumping, which would irreparably harm traditional land-based communities through the state.

Impacts to New Mexicans’ Drinking Water

The Dirty Water Rule threatens the drinking water of at least 900,000 people in New Mexico.


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New Mexico's outdoor recreation economy depends on clean water.

From New Mexico’s iconic Rio Grande to smaller waterways like arroyos, all of the state’s waters sustain critical economic activity.

The Solution

The State must step in to fill the regulatory gap left by the Supreme Court ruling

This ruling impacts New Mexico more than any other state in the nation. We need the state to create a state surface water permitting program to fill the gap left by this ruling and protect New Mexico’s waterways from unregulated dumping.


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Take Action!

Join us to call on the legislature to provide funding for a state program to protect our waters from unregulated pollution.

News & Resources

Polluted Future: New Mexico Clean Water Under Threat

Created in partnership by Amigos Bravos and CAVU




Producer: CAVU

Co-Directors: Liliana Castillo and Staci Stevens

Cinematography: Vladimir Chaloupka

Additional photography: David Aubrey, Nate Stone, Peter Bill, Tyler Bingham, & Allison Siwik

Editor: Madison McClintock


Story Map

Web Design: Maria Chavez

Photography: Vladimir Chaloupka

Graphic.Design: Brandon Basino

Content Development: Liliana Castillo, Rachel Conn, Staci Stevens

Protect New Mexico’s Waters


Dear Legislator:


New Mexico is rich in valuable waterways that support multi-generational acequias, wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs critical for agriculture, wildlife habitat, drinking water supplies, and our growing outdoor recreation economy. The 2023 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Sackett v. EPA severely limits the waters protected under the federal Clean Water Act, and the state does not now have programs in place to fill the gaps to protect our surface waters and wetlands.


The 2023 Supreme Court ruling, combined with previous reductions of protections at the federal level in 2001 and 2006, negatively impacts New Mexico more than any state in the nation, resulting in only 4% of New Mexico’s streams that are clearly subject to protection under the Clean Water Act. In addition, the Sackett decision eliminates protection under the federal act for most of New Mexico’s wetlands, waters that serve vital ecological functions. New Mexico is one of only three states that does not have a state point source program to control the discharge of contaminants into state waters, previously managed federally under the Clean Water Act. 


I urge you to work with Governor Lujan Grisham’s administration and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to create a comprehensive vision for New Mexico’s water quality and future that protects both our streams and wetlands. As part of this effort, I support NMED’s efforts to establish a state-led surface water quality permitting program and appreciate the legislature’s previous investments toward this effort. 


In the 2024 legislative session, I urge you to fund the following short-term projects at NMED from the state’s record-high general fund surplus:

  • $150,000 to conduct a statewide analysis of wetland and stream connectivity and
  • $690,000 for the first year of a three-year effort to increase additional monitoring and enforcement of current rules and regulations, “including the $5 million capital funding request for the River Stewardship Program intended to restore river and wetland habitat statewide.


In addition, I urge you to:

  • Fund NMED’s special appropriation request of $600,000 for surface water permitting that, according to NMED, will be used for the development of a database for surface and groundwater permits, which is critical for building state capacity to address the impacts of the 2023 Supreme Court decision and
  • Fund NMED’s Water Protection Division operating budget and other special appropriations as requested by the executive. 


Thank you for your continued leadership to ensure that New Mexico’s clean water is protected for our communities, our culture, our economy, and our environment for generations to come.


Thank you,