The kids called the heaps of waste rock from a shuttered mine “the moon,” and the bare mounds of yellow mill tailings “Egypt.”
“We played there. We loved it,” recalled San Miguel County Commissioner Janice Varela. “We didn’t know.”
Growing up on the edge of the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico, she said, they lived with a world of mountains, rivers, and canyons at their disposal. That world just happened to include the geologic oddities of an old lead and zinc mine, mill buildings and tailings piles. People would load up the back of a pickup truck and haul the waste rock away for use around their homes, including Varela’s ex-husband, who applied it to their driveway.
Water was the focus at the Roundhouse during American Indian Day, bringing together activists and lawmakers, on Friday. The day’s theme–”No to the Dakota Access Pipeline”–signified a greater interest in water rights, communal support, and a growing enthusiasm for environmental issues among Indigenous New Mexicans. Attendees declared their support for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s opposition to a proposed oil pipeline route in North Dakota, and affirmed the importance of clean water for Indigenous people everywhere. “Standing Rock galvanized people from all over, not just Indians, but native, non-native and people from around the world that came together around an issue of water. I think we’re going to see more of that,” Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo, said.
On the latest episode of Blue Corn Live, a new podcast exploring food in New Mexico, farmers from the Albuquerque area talk about some of the challenges they face, including when it comes to climate change.
Los Alamos scientists are looking at how climate-driven impacts such as drought, wildfire, and insect outbreaks will affect ecosystems and regional water supplies. Halfway through a three-year, $3 million project, the team’s research already shows that climate-driven disturbances could reduce annual flows in parts of the Colorado River Basin by 20 percent.
People across the state and beyond our boundaries are studying everything from impacts on wildlife species to dropping aquifer levels. But there’s no one clearinghouse for all this information. This map is a step toward trying to collect that information – and presenting it to the public in a way that’s easy-to-use and relevant to peoples’ communities.
In her State of the State, Gov. Martinez called for developing “every kind of energy we can produce in New Mexico.” But a closer look at the administration’s recent energy plan reveals that the state still lacks a long-term plan for New Mexico’s economic future, even as the climate warms, energy prices drop, and a new era of federal regulations dawns.
Last year, New Mexico state lawmakers set aside $100,000 to study the state’s water supply. But now, the funding is gone. Citing a drop in state revenue, the Legislature has pulled funding for the group—known as the New Mexico Universities Working Group on Water Supply Vulnerabilities.
Drought is not unusual in New Mexico. But unlike in the past, when changes in long-term, large-scale precipitation patterns drove drought in the Southwest, changes in temperature will drive drought in the future.