Water

A coalition of elected officials, farmers, conservationists and tribal leaders gathered at the Hoover Dam Thursday and called on lawmakers to place a moratorium on “wasteful” new pipelines or dams that would divert water from the parched Colorado River. The announcement came as a severe drought deepens across the West and as a massive infrastructure bill is slowly moving through Congress.

Hans via Pixabay

  The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people around the West, including New Mexico, but the historic drought gripping our region has prompted a 20 percent drop in flows in the river. Reservoirs are drying, with Lake Mead at its lowest levels since it was filled in the 1930s. As scientists incorporate these changes into future projections, an article in Science magazine urges them to plan for even greater declines in the river.

Let’s Talk Climate Change And The Rio Grande

Jun 1, 2021
Marisa Demarco / KUNM


  Let’s Talk New Mexico 6/3 at 8 am: The Rio Grande is swelling right now, but looks can be deceiving. Climate change is drying out this lifeline in the high desert. The river is a highly managed water system, so flows are supplemented and the impacts of global warming aren't always immediately visible. But climate change is taking its toll, and local managers say those miles-long dry patches we’ve been seeing could grow larger and last longer. The annual flows may drop even further, leaving thirsty cottonwood trees, parched ecosystems and dry farms.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


CARES Act money was distributed last year to keep businesses open during the pandemic, to help people pay rent, and even to help local governments stay afloat. But for the country’s indiginous tribes, who are among the most vulnerable, getting those dollars took extra work and more time. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona recently asked Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez what it took to get their stimulus and disaster relief payments and how they’re using the money to help people on the reservation. 

Laura Paskus

An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human-caused climate change is real. And along with more heat, drought and wildfires, we are facing an increase in forced migration – people fleeing their home countries for U.S. borders when they lose their crops or conditions become unlivable. No More Normal host Khalil Ekulona spoke with environmental reporter Laura Paskus about how New Mexicans should be preparing for this future, especially when it comes to water use. She says the Albuquerque stretch of the Rio Grande is critically low and could even stop flowing this month.

No More Normal: What's At Stake

Oct 11, 2020
Bert Benally

Let’s take a breath. In episode 12, we try to fend off that wild pandemic election news cycle we’ve been living inside of, which can feel like a deluge of disorganized tragedies and failures. And we put the focus on what’s hanging in the balance these next couple of weeks as we cast our ballots.

Paul Tashjian, Audubon New Mexico


Let's Talk New Mexico 8/11 8a: The Navajo community of To'Hajiilee faces severe water shortages and has worked with Bernalillo County to find a way to pipe in water from Albuquerque. But a land development company stands in the way. On this week’s Let’s Talk New Mexico, we'll discuss the To'Hajiilee water crisis, plus the aftereffects of the 2015 Gold King Mine spill and this year’s dramatic increase in water use in New Mexico's largest city.

As the country turned its attention toward the pandemic, something else was creeping into the Mountain West: drought conditions.

A new study in the journal Science says that human-driven climate change is pushing the American West into a megadrought, and into its driest period in more than 400 years.

 


Austin Fisher | Rio Grande Sun / Courtesy of the Rio Grande Sun

Española residents didn’t know about drinking water contamination for months. Thursday city officials issued a warning about high levels of nitrates in the city’s water that could be harmful to children and pregnant women and possibly fatal for infants.

Public Health New Mexico’s May Ortega spoke with Austin Fisher who broke the story this week for the Rio Grande Sun. He says test results show contaminant levels are lower now than they were in the fall.

Airman B. Snyder via The National Archives Catalogue / public domain

Holloman Air Force Base is the site of some incredibly high levels of groundwater contamination. Laura Paskus broke the story for NMPoliticalReport.com this week.

Kevin MacDonald of our media partner New Mexico PBS asked her his top questions in a Facebook Live chat on Wednesday. 

Rawpixel via Unsplash / Unsplash License

Paying bills during the partial government shutdown might be tough for federal workers who’ve been furloughed or who are showing up to work and not getting paid.

Several New Mexico utilities are working to relieve some of those worries.

Megan Kamerick

  University Showcase, 12/21 8a: Climate change is not theoretical in New Mexico. It's here and already having serious impacts on our communities. Professor David Gutzler says we have no choice but to adapt and incorporate this reality into our policies statewide. 

Rivers Struggle Around The State

Jul 5, 2018
Marisa Demarco / KUNM

People around the state are used to seeing the flows in local rivers fluctuate. But this year, sandbars have started to widen and connect, and riverbanks are growing by yards. In some places down South, it’s completely dry for miles. KUNM caught up with journalist Laura Paskus of the New Mexico Political Report in a dry patch of the Rio Grande on Thursday morning. 

Laura Paskus

As high winds whipped dust, Siberian elm seeds and recycling bins around Albuquerque Thursday afternoon, dozens of people filed into the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque office to hear the agency’s 2018 forecast for the Rio Grande.

“I’ll be the bearer of bad news,” said Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Manager Jennifer Faler. “This is the most extreme shift we’ve had from one operating plan meeting to another.”

In Deep Water

Jan 10, 2018
Laura Paskus / NM PBS

As severe drought returns to New Mexico, farmers and skiers alike fret over the state’s lack of snow. Meanwhile, on a cold, cloudy Monday morning in Washington, DC, attorneys for New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and the United States government grappled over the muddy waters of the Rio Grande.

Tanker Supplies Drinking Water To Carrizozo

Sep 6, 2017
User #3345408 via Pixabay / Creative Commons License

Albuquerque’s water utility is helping out a small New Mexico town to the south.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority sent a 6,000-gallon water tanker to supply residents in Carrizozo while that city investigates sulfate contamination in the groundwater supply.

More Fluoride For Albuquerque And Bernalillo County?

Aug 23, 2017
Creative Commons via Pixabay

UPDATE 8/24: The vote to put additional fluoride into the water supply in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County was postponed Wednesday night, after lacking enough votes from water utility board members to pass the measure.

Bernalillo County

Water has always been at the center of the controversy over Santolina, a massive project planned for over 20 square miles on a dusty mesa west of Albuquerque. The project got another boost Tuesday after officials voted to allow the project’s developers more time to come up with a plan for water use.

Mike Tungate via Wikimedia / creative commons license

The Bernalillo County Commission will hold another public meeting Tuesday on Santolina, a controversial 22-square mile residential development planned for an area west of Albuquerque.

Wiki, Creative Commons

6/3 When we turn on the tap, where does our water come from? And when we flush, where does that go?  We’ll talk with Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority educator, Erin Keck about our water systems. 

Many Reasons, One Cause In Pipeline Protest

Sep 14, 2016
Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

Opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline continues to grow beyond its North Dakota roots, with solidarity protests Tuesday in dozens of cities across the country and the world.

Community Groups Take On Santolina In Court

Aug 31, 2016
Victoria Edwards/KUNM

Stories of outsiders coming to New Mexico to exploit the state's resources are nothing new – think Spanish colonization.

That’s how many critics see Santolina, a 22-square-mile development proposed for an area west of Albuquerque. But opponents of the project are fighting back in court.

Agency Downsizes Gila River Diversion Plans

Jun 27, 2016
Kevin Dooley via Flickr

It looks like state officials have scrapped a $1 billion proposal to divert water from the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico – but they’re still looking to spend $80 million to $100 million to take water from the river for towns and farmers.

ABCWUA Will Not Bring Back Fluoridated Water

May 18, 2016
Steve Johnson via Flickr / CREATIVE COMMONS

UPDATE 5/19: Water utility board members decided Wednesday not to add more fluoride to drinking water to promote oral health in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the board voted to cut the funding for supplemental fluoridation.

Supporters of fluoridation argue it benefits low-income people who don’t have easy access to affordable dental care. Critics of supplemental fluoridation say it creates  health risks.

Shiprock Votes To Keep Irrigation Shut Off

Aug 24, 2015
Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE 8/25 at 12:30 p.m.: President Russell Begaye is awaiting soil and sediment samples from the Navajo Nation's Environmental Protection Agency before deciding whether to remove restrictions on irrigation from the San Juan River, according to spokesperson Mihio Manus. Begaye, a farmer himself who's relied on the river, met with farmers in Shiprock on Thursday, Aug. 20. 

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Shiprock Farmers Scramble To Save Fields

Aug 18, 2015
Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill caused the shut down of San Juan River irrigation to farms on the Navajo Nation. Emergency stopgap measures aren’t quite panning out. 

Rita Daniels

New Mexico lifted water restrictions on the Animas and San Juan Rivers over the weekend in the wake of a toxic mine spill in Colorado.

Water samples showed spikes in heavy metals, but state and federal officials say contaminants have been diluted and dispersed downstream.

That brought relief to farmers in San Juan County who are not on the Navajo Nation. They were given the go-ahead on Saturday to irrigate and use the water for watering livestock after the San Juan and Animas Rivers had been closed for more than a week.

Navajo Farmers: EPA Sent Us More Contaminated Water

Aug 17, 2015
Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Update Aug. 18, 11:30 a.m.: The EPA said the water for the Navajo Nation came from nearby Bloomfield and met state and federal quality standards. The trucks came from a division of an Aztec, N.M.-based company, Triple S Trucking, that moves non-potable water. The company also hauls fluids to and from oil fields. KUNM awaits comment from Triple S. 

Volunteers Go Door-To-Door To Alert Navajos About Spill

Aug 14, 2015
Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Not everyone on the Navajo Nation had heard about the Gold King Mine spill that happened more than a week ago, even though they might live along the San Juan River.

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