The "Dirty Water" Rule

The federal Clean Water Act places pollution protections "waters of the United States."  A recent, but controversial, federal rulemaking  has changed the definition of "waters of the United States" to newly exclude ephemeral (intermittent) streams.  As a desert state, most of New Mexico's streams are thus no longer protected.

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Description of the Issue

New Mexico is a desert state. One of the features of arid states is they have lots of waterways and wetlands that are not wet all the time. The federal government has revised the Clean Water Act called the 2020 Rule to exclude most of these water places. It will be legal to dump just about any substance into them. If this happens, it is inevitable that most of our major streams will be polluted by very toxic substances.

New Mexico is disproportionately affected by the 2020 Rule because of the large number of small streams in the state that flow only during wet times of the year. These smaller ephemeral streams have historically been protected by the Clean Water Act but under the new rule they are left unprotected.

Groundwater would receive no protection from polluted surface water. Wetlands that drain through groundwater would not be protected. Much habitat and water quality are threatened by this.

Advocates should be prepared to support repeal of this ill-conceived, destructive rule called the Dirty Water Rule.


Action Opportunity

Federal Level

Support the Clean Water For All Act - contact your Representative to build support for legislation stopping Trump’s Dirty Water Rule!
COVID-19 and its detrimental impacts on our communities has amplified the need for safe and affordable water. Last month, the House passed the HEROES Act for further relief provisions, two of which our water provisions made it in: