Sierra Club Reaches Legal Settlement Obligating Utility PNM, San Juan Coal Company to Clean Up Water Pollution from Coal Facilities

Coal Waste

Sierra Club Calls on PNM to Move New Mexico Beyond Coal to Clean Energy

Albuquerque, NM -- Today the Sierra Club reached a legal settlement obligating the utility Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) and San Juan Coal Company (a subsidiary of BHP Billiton, Ltd.) to stop ground and surface water contamination that the group alleges comes from toxic coal ash waste and other sources at the San Juan Coal Mine and San Juan Generating Station coal-fired power plant. The settlement obligates the companies to build structures including a “slurry wall” and a recovery trench to prevent contaminants from traveling toward the San Juan River, pumping the pollution instead into a lined storage pond.

Flow Restored to the Santa Fe River

Santa Fe River - JB

By John Buchser, Chapter Chair and River Commission member, a.k.a. River Angel

Years of work by river commissioners and Santa Fe City staff was rewarded on February 29 by unanimous approval of a river flow bill by the City Council. The bill allows for 'pass-through' of flows through the two reservoirs above Santa Fe of up to 1000 acre-feet of water in a year-round scheme designed to mirror natural flows.

Santa Fe River Is Not A River Without Water

Santa Fe River Mural

Published February 19 in the Santa Fe New Mexican

On February 29, Santa Fe City Council voted unanimously to support up to 1000 Acre-Feet/year to flow in the Santa Fe River. The City of Santa Fe has reached a major milestone in its 400 year history - water once again in the River!

Having served on the River Commission for two terms, John Buchser happily accepted the new title 'river angel' from councilor Bushee.

On Wednesday, February 29, at 7pm, the Santa Fe City Council is considering a river flow ordinance. This law would allow year-round flow past our reservoirs into the Santa Fe River. The River through Santa Fe is why our City has existed 400 years. A river does not exist as a living river without water. You can do two things to show support for water in the river.

  • Write or call your councilors and let them know you support flow in the river, and why. The e-mail and phone number for each councilor is shown at the end of this webpage.
  • Come to the council meeting on the last day of February and tell the council in person why you support flow in the river.

Water-saving successes in El Paso and Santa Fe

Rainwater Harvesting System (photo by Janet Thew)

By Mike Weinberg, Chapter Water Chair

We all by now have heard that worldwide shortages of fresh water are expected in the coming decades due to increased demand from an ever-growing global population and anticipated drying of the earth’s climate.

Development of new water supplies and better management of existing sources will be necessary in order to meet the challenges that lie ahead. We can all help by conserving this precious resource.

How might climate change affect New Mexico?

By Mona Blaber

Every study released lately seems to have worse news about climate change, but it’s hard to translate the figures and statistics into any kind of idea of how life will change in New Mexico, or any region, in the coming decades. I asked University of New Mexico Earth and Planetary Sciences professor David Gutzler, who has researched climate variability in the West, about what these predictions mean for us.

Ten Gallons per Day

Pecos Falls

Louise Pape, Vice Chair of the Sustainable Santa Fe Commission and Sierra Club member, has created a website that explains how to reduce personal water consumption to ten gallons per day. Check it out.

Ten Gallons a Day by Louise Pape

New Water Issues Chair Mike Weinberg

A big welcome to Mike Weinberg, a hydrogeologist from Chama. His background of 20 years as professional engineer in Florida may seem like a mismatch for the southwest. Assessing Florida's shallow aquifers has given Mike practical experience in managing what we will also likely see lots more of in New Mexico: We are rapidly pumping freshwater aquifers at unsustainable levels. The frequent result is that nearby mineral-laden water flows to mix with freshwater, contaminating what freshwater is left.


An Inconvenient Adjudication Impacting Water Rights on the Rio Grande

Elephant Butte Dam 4

Initial Article Published in the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Sierran in the March-April 2010 Issue. This write up includes the initial article plus subsequent updates. For further information contact Sigmund Silber ssilber1@juno.com
Editor's note:This is a consolidation of ongoing updates. Click on update link to go directly to that section


Home Water Conservation

Stewart Lake by DVW

Over the past three years, our family has consumed 38% less water than the prior owners of our house. During this same time period, the neighbor’s water consumption has been 9 times our water consumption in a house of similar size. Learn what you can do.

NM Water Quality Commission Approves Safeguards for Clean Water

December 15 – The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) today passed New Mexico’s first industry-specific regulations for the dairy industry. The new regulations will govern dairy waste pollution in ground water. The decision marks the end of a two-year process begun by the dairy industry itself, which asked for industry-specific regulations during the 2009 New Mexico legislative session.

“These regulations are way overdue”, said Jerry Nivens of Caballo Concerned Citizens. “This is a victory for clean water.”

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