Polluted Future - New Mexico Clean Water Under Threat

New Mexico is full of


But under a new federal rule, 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 Dirty Water Rule removes federal Clean Water Rule protections for most of New Mexico’s waterways overall and almost ALL of our waterways that do not flow year-round.

The Dirty Water Rule negatively impacts New Mexico more than any state in the nation for two reasons:

  1. The rule removes federal Clean Water Act protections for the vast majority of our waterways. 

  2. 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 water resources.

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 Dirty Water Rule.


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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 can and should step in to fill the regulatory gap left by the Dirty Water Rule

The Dirty Water Rule impacts New Mexico more severely than most states in the nation. We need the state to create a state surface water permitting program to fill the gap left by the Dirty Water Rule 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 NM’s Water from the Dirty Water Rule!

Dear Legislator,

New Mexico is rich in iconic waterways that support multi-generational acequias, wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs critical for agriculture, wildlife habitat, drinking water supplies, and our growing outdoor recreation economy. All of this is under threat by the federal Navigable Waters Protection Rule, also known as the 2020 Dirty Water Rule.

The Dirty Water Rule, combined with previous reductions of protections at the federal level in2001 and 2006, negatively impacts New Mexico more than any state in the nation leaving more than 90% of New Mexico’s waters unprotected by the federal Clean Water Act. Also, New Mexico is one of only three states that does not have a state 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 to protect New Mexico’s waters and future by instituting and adequately funding a state program to fill regulatory gaps left by the loss of federal protections. A state program will create more local oversight of New Mexico’s waters that we all depend on for our health and livelihoods.

Thank you,