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Albuquerque Tightens Water Pollution Oversight

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Pollution flowing out of Albuquerque in the Rio Grande is a problem for Isleta Pueblo and other downstream communities. Now the city is boosting oversight of water contaminants. 

A federal report found the Rio Grande had high levels of E. coli and other pollutants last year. A lot of the contaminants wash into the river through Albuquerque’s storm drains. But until a new rule was put into effect this week giving Albuquerque officials new enforcement powers, there wasn’t much the city could do if they found pollution running through the stormwater system.

“What the ordinance does is it gives us control at the local level over what goes into our storm drainage system,” said stormwater manager Kevin Daggett. Controlling pollution at the city level—and being able to track down polluters—should lead to better water quality, he said.

“We’re really excited about the fact that we’ll be able to clean the water up, not only in our storm drain system, but in the river,” Daggett said.

The city is also hiring more water quality inspectors, and most importantly, Daggett said, stepping up education campaigns around water pollution.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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