Hundreds of miles of rivers and streams in northern New Mexico just received additional protections from harmful pollution. The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission unanimously voted to designate the Upper Pecos watershed and segments of Rio Grande, Rio Hondo, Lake Fork, East Fork Jemez River, San Antonio Creek, and Redondo Creek as Outstanding National Resource Waters. Last year, I called for these state level protections for the Upper Pecos to safeguard the promise of clean water and increase protections for the watershed.
The Pecos Valley is home to a remarkably diverse community of farmers, ranchers, hunters, anglers and outdoor recreationists who are united by the beauty and health of the Pecos River and the expansive watersheds that feed into it. Unfortunately, this region has a history of poorly managed mining and development projects that have put these New Mexicans, and their way of life and cultural identity, at risk.
That is why I am continuing to work closely with communities in northern New Mexico to pass the Pecos Watershed Protection Act that would withdraw all federally-managed minerals in the watershed and prevent leasing, patent, or sale of all publicly-owned minerals, including oil and gas as well as gold, silver, copper, and other hard rock minerals. We must do all we can to prevent future mining accidents in northern New Mexico that pose a threat to these waters and its people. That way, this watershed can remain healthy and intact for generations to come, because as we all know, agua es vida.
I also recently secured the commitment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cover 100% of the costs through its Emergency Watershed Protection Program to remove debris and repair the damage to watersheds in New Mexico that have been severely impacted by this year’s devastating wildfires. This critical work will protect vital sources of clean water that New Mexicans rely upon and help us prepare for the impacts of soil erosion and floods that often follow significant wildfires.
I will continue to secure the federal resources that New Mexico needs to strengthen critical forest and watershed restoration work, to recover and rebuild from this year’s disasters, and to protect our treasured rivers and streams for future generations.
United States Senator