WASINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) doubled down on how important key water protections, programs, and infrastructure investments are for ensuring the health, safety, and economic future of New Mexicans.
In an Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing to review the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Senator Heinrich noted that the previous administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule has left 96% of New Mexico’s wetlands and waterways unprotected.
Senator Heinrich pointed out that “major portions of the Santa Fe River, which provides 40% of the drinking water for the City of Santa Fe, is not covered by that rule because the nature of waterways in New Mexico are that they are seasonal.”
Senator Heinrich expressed that the Trump-era rule was “horribly written” and requested that EPA Administrator Michael Regan revisit the rule to ensure critical protections for New Mexico waterways that provide water for clean drinking, agriculture, and local industry.
Senator Heinrich also indicated that the system of requiring local matching funds has left too many rural and small communities in New Mexico without access to EPA programs to install and maintain clean drinking water and safe wastewater systems. Senator Heinrich is asking the Biden administration to make access to these water infrastructure programs more realistic and readily available to underserved communities.
During the hearing, Senator Heinrich also expressed disappointment in the less than satisfactory budget request to help colonias and border communities with critical water infrastructure.
“I’m disappointed to learn that the EPA’s U.S.-Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program was flat funded. The Rural Community Assistance Partnership estimates the need there at $10 Billion dollars – and yet that was flat in a budget that is largely robust,” said Heinrich. Senator Heinrich asked EPA Administrator Regan to prioritize funding for the U.S.-Mexico Water Infrastructure Program in order to meet the needs of colonias.