Experts: New threats to New Mexico’s rivers also endanger its groundwater resources

A new ranking of the state’s rivers as the nation’s “most endangered” highlights connected fragility of the state’s surface and groundwater systems.

April 16, 2024
Jonathan Seefeldt, (512) 412-2540,

(Santa Fe, NM - April 16, 2024) - New Mexico’s rivers are under severe threat, further endangering already strained ecosystems, drinking water sources and livelihoods across the state, according to a new report. The state’s rivers now collectively rank as the most endangered in America according to new analysis released today by American Rivers. 

“This latest report adds additional urgency to mounting concerns with New Mexico’s overall water security,” said Maurice Hall, Santa Fe-based senior advisor to the Climate Resilient Water Systems program at Environmental Defense Fund. “These rivers and their canyons and riparian areas are part of what makes New Mexico the special place we love, and as this report highlights, if we don't strengthen the protections of these rivers, we will lose all that they mean to New Mexico. And it’s not just about threats to the water we can see in streams and rivers, the state’s surface water systems are intimately connected to its groundwater resources. Shrinking surface water sources mean new pressure will be placed on groundwater to support our growing population and economy. We must improve state-level safeguards for streams, wetlands, and groundwater basins in order to secure New Mexico’s water future.”

“Across New Mexico, families, farmers, and ranchers are becoming more and more reliant on groundwater as surface water supplies decline in the face of climate impacts and overuse,” said Vanessa Puig-Williams, a director in the Climate Resilient Water Systems program at Environmental Defense Fund. “Given groundwater’s crucial importance, it is critical that it is measured, monitored, and managed. Aquifers are essential infrastructure. We need to invest in them as we continue to build for New Mexico’s future.We urge legislators to build on the consensus momentum this session and invest in groundwater sustainability to ensure it serves not only future generations of New Mexicans, but communities and businesses that are facing critical levels of groundwater decline today.”

The Environmental Defense Fund has worked closely with New Mexico lawmakers this year to identify potential ways the state can refine its management of its vital water resources. More on the recent progress in this regard during the 2024 legislative session.

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