Help to Protect New Mexico Waters: Participate in the 2021 Triennial Review
Your Comments Needed for New Mexico’s Triennial Review!
Last day to submit comments: Wednesday, July 21
The federal Clean Water Act and the New Mexico Water Quality Act require the State to review its surface water quality regulations at least every three years in a process called the Triennial Review. This hearing, which started July 13, offers the public an opportunity to advocate for stronger water quality protections and oppose proposed amendments that will weaken existing surface water regulations.
The Triennial Review will end this Wednesday, July 21. The public can submit written comments now through the end of the hearing. Oral comments up to 5 minutes will be allowed at the virtual hearing which starts at 10 am on July 21. At the bottom of this page we have included talking points and an example to help you formulate your comments.
How To Submit Your Comments
You can submit your comments in two ways:
1) Written comments by email
To submit written comments via email, send to:
Pamela Jones, Office of Public Facilitation, New Mexico Environment Department
*Please reference docket number WQCC 20-51(R) in the subject line of your email.
Send your email no later than 12 noon (Mountain Time), July 21. Earlier is better.
2) Oral comments at the virtual hearing
Public comment time begins at 10 am on July 21. Members of the public who wish to speak should plan to be available and call in at 10 am that day; it’s not clear how long the hearing will last but it’s possible it may be a short day. If you choose to submit your comment this way, be prepared to be sworn in just as you would be if you attended an in-person hearing.
Members of the public will have up to 5 minutes to speak. People can (but are not required to) sign up ahead of time to speak by emailing the Commission Administrator Pam Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To join via WebEx, use this link: https://nmed-oit.webex.com/nmed-oit/j.php?MTID=mefef0317e0506dd61349a56413bb88e0
Enter meeting number: 177 417 5840
To join via telephone: dial (415) 655-0001, access code: 177 417 5840
Feel free to copy and paste these talking points, and to re-word them to express your own particular concerns as a community member, farmer, parciante, birthworker, educator, etc. Please begin your comments by noting that you support the proposals by the Communities for Clean Water (CCW) and the Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP).
1.) Oppose a Limited Definition of Climate Change: The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is proposing a new definition of “climate change” that doesn’t identity climate change as predominantly human caused.
Talking Points: Urge the Commission to adopt a definition of climate change that identifies human activities as the major cause of climate change and to specify combatting climate change as a purpose of the regulations.
2.) Support Standards for Contaminants of Emerging Concern: NMED is proposing a new definition of “Contaminants of Emerging Concern” (CEC), while Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the New Mexico Mining Association (NMMA) are opposing adding a CEC definition and CEC monitoring requirements to the standards.
Talking Points: Support adoption of a CEC definition that clearly gives NMED the authority to required monitoring CECs. Support adding PFAS to the CEC definition as an example of CECs. PFAS are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are a group of man-made chemicals that research has shown to affect reproductive health, increase the risk of some cancers, affect childhood development, increase cholesterol levels, weaken the immune system, and interfere with the body’s hormones.
3.) Say “No!” to Toxic Fish: LANL is proposing to substantially limit the number of waters, including waters on LANL’s property, that currently receive protections under the Human Health – Organism Only (HH-OO) criteria for toxic pollutants. These criteria protect human health by ensuring that pollutants dangerous to human health do not build up in fish and other aquatic life that humans ingest.
Talking Point: Oppose LANL’s proposal to weaken HH-00 criteria because the fish we catch in our rivers, streams, reservoirs, and lakes must be kept safe to eat.
4.) Support the Existing Definition of Toxic Pollutants: LANL and the NMMA propose to limit the definition of “toxic pollutant” to only toxic pollutants listed in an outdated EPA list.
Talking Point: New Mexico should not cede is authority to identify and regulate toxic pollutants based on an outdated federal list of toxic pollutants.
5.) Oppose Limited Monitoring for LANL: LANL proposes to limit monitoring to an outdated EPA list of monitoring methods for purposes of permit compliance and enforcement.
Talking Points: This proposal would prevent effective monitoring of PCBs and PFAS. Express your objection that the U.S. Department of Energy and LANL are spending taxpayer dollars to fight state efforts to protect waters from persistent and harmful pollutants.
Sample comment from Beata Tsosie, TWU Environmental Justice program coordinator
Un bi agindi, With your respect my name is Beata Tsosie, I am from Santa Clara Pueblo and El Rito, and work with Tewa Women United. I am a birth worker, farmer, and educator, and advocate for an end to environmental violence from nuclear colonialism and extraction industries in my ancestral homelands.
I want to start with affirming my support for Communities for Clean Water’s (CCW) testimony and recommendations. Our community voices are facing multiple barriers to being able to participate in this hearing, so I hope CCW testimony is heard for the representation they hold in their testimony.
As a Tewa caregiver of this land I am a part of, I oppose several of the proposals put forth by Los Alamos National Laboratory, an ongoing for-profit military colonial occupation that has severely disrupted, degraded, and continues to cause ongoing harm to our land-based quality of life, the health of our community downwind and down river, and the health and integrity of our precious living waters.
I urge the commission to protect all waterways, and as many waters as possible, including those on LANL’s occupied property to be protected under the Human Health Organism Only (HH-OO) criteria for toxic pollutants. My community still subsists from fishing and hunting, and is our Indigenous human rights to continue to be able to live our traditional existence free from toxic exposures when it comes to fishing in our rivers, streams, reservoirs and lakes. We are already impacted by bioaccumulation of toxins in our ecology. These protections are crucial when it comes to considering the cumulative and multiple exposures our peoples face just by living our traditional land-based existence. It is environmental racism perpetrated by LANL to try and limit the number of waters that hold this standard of protection to human health.
I want to affirm that New Mexico should not weaken its authority to regulate and identify what are toxic pollutants when it comes to water quality. There are existing and yet to be discovered contaminated sites, and we must be able to respond to toxicity based on existing definitions of toxic pollutants.
I oppose LANL’s proposal to limit monitoring methods for purposes of permit compliance and enforcement. It is not just radionuclides we are concerned with, it is PCBS and countless chemical combinations, including PFAS which are at extremely concerning levels at some sites. I am often disheartened at the fact that all I can hope for when it comes to clean up at LANL contaminated sites is often times the bare minimum of monitoring. It angers me that the DOE and LANL can use these platforms and waste resources to constantly try and fight efforts to protect waters from pollution, and try and make water protections less stringent when it comes to these extremely harmful pollutants that we have to live with. Monitoring must remain pervasive, it is informing our community of what is happening.
I am in support of the adoption of a Contaminants of Emerging Concern CEC definition that clearly gives NMED the authority to require monitoring CEC’s. I support adding PFAS to the CEC definition as an example of CECs. PFAS are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are a group of man-made chemicals that research has shown to affect reproductive health, increase the risk of some cancers, affect childhood development, increase cholesterol levels, weaken the immune system, and interfere with the body’s hormones. We must center Indigenous Pregnant families as the standard for protection, this means monitoring CEC’s at a local and state level.
Finally, I urge the Commission to adopt a definition of climate change that identifies human activities as the major cause of climate change and to specify combatting climate change as a purpose of the regulations. This is another attempt to limit accountability for polluters, and our children deserve better, ask them what is causing climate change today, this is common sense.