Home / News / NMED Reports Nearly 200 Alleged Drinking Water Violations

NMED Reports Nearly 200 Alleged Drinking Water Violations

May 06, 2023May 06, 2023

The state environment department initiated 221 enforcement actions last month, 199 of which were alleged violations posted by the Drinking Water Bureau—the first month that bureau has been included in the state's new monthly Enforcement Watch. Among the Drinking Water Bureau's alleged violations, both the Canada De Los Alamos Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association and Cielo Lindo in Santa Fe County received notices for failing to follow lead and copper monitoring and reporting requirements over multiple reporting periods. In addition to the Drinking Water Bureau's notices, last month's actions included: 12 notices of alleged violations from the Food Safety Program, including notices to the cafe at the Inn at Santa Fe, Estevan Restaurant, the Salvation Army and various locations of Rainbow Snow for allegedly operating without permits. In addition, Pavilion Construction in Santa Fe received a notice of an alleged violation from the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau and Santa Fe Radiator received one from the Hazardous Waste Bureau. The department also reported resolution by the Hazardous Waste Bureau of 15 cases statewide last month."The Enforcement Watch provides New Mexicans with transparency of our enforcement efforts across the state to protect health, safety and environment," NMED Secretary James Kenney said in a statement. "As we integrate the Enforcement Watch into department processes, expect to see more historic data, greater access to enforcement documents and improved transparency of our enforcement efforts."

The Bureau of Land Management New Mexico's office and the state Department of Game and Fish yesterday reported that white-nose syndrome, a disease of hibernating bats, has been confirmed for the first time in New Mexico, following the collection in April of samples from two live and two deceased bats in BLM-managed caves in Lincoln and De Baca counties. According to a news release, an invasive fungal pathogen named Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) causes WNS; while the pathogen was previously detected here in 2021, evidence of WNS had not been confirmed until now. The fungal disease has killed millions of bats in North America since 2006 and creates a powdery, white fungus that grows on hibernating bats’ skin, causing irritation and dehydration. Bats thus awaken early from hibernation and exhaust fat stores they need to survive the winter, which often leads to death. "Of the almost 30 species of bats known to occur in New Mexico, more than half are known or suspected to hibernate in the state during the winter," James Stuart, non-game mammal specialist with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, said in a statement. "All these hibernating species are potentially vulnerable to WNS when they spend the winter in caves or mines where the Pd fungus has become established. We don't yet know to what extent WNS will impact our New Mexico bat populations, but we will continue to support monitoring of bat populations and caves throughout New Mexico for the presence of WNS and Pd." While neither humans nor pets are effected by WNS, the agencies say people can help limit its spread by: respecting mine and cave closures; decontaminating foot and cave gear after visiting ones where bats live; and by reporting dead or sick bats, among other actions. Read more about white-nose syndrome here.

Free summer food programs for children and youth ages 1 to 18 began yesterday across the state—including at multiple locations in Santa Fe—and will run through July. According to a joint news release from the state Early Childhood Education and Care Department Family Nutrition Bureau and Public Education Department, federal funding from the Department of Agriculture allows the state to provide breakfast, lunch and in some cases dinner at 700 locations across the state. "Making sure that our children have what they need for success year-round is the charge for those of us in public education," Education Secretary Arsenio Romero said in a statement. "Ensuring access to free, healthy meals all summer long is paramount among that charge." One in five children in New Mexico experience food insecurity, according to The Food Depot, and other organizations. Officials at ECECD and PED say they "are actively working to expand access to program services statewide" as part of an administrative push to combine agency resources to "better target" childhood food insecurity and hunger. "Healthy and nutritious meals are vital to the well-being and development of young children," ECECD Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky said in a statement. "The Summer Food Program provides a stable and predictable source of meals for families during summer. With hundreds of sites all over the state, we encourage New Mexico families to seek out a program nearby to access, free, ready-to-eat meals for your children."

Fallout continues following the transportation of two groups of Latin American migrants to California via New Mexico. California officials say each group—one arriving Friday and another yesterday—arrived on a private plane from an airfield in New Mexico (reportedly in Deming). The California Department of Justice said the migrants’ documents indicated the state of Florida had been involved in the migrants’ relocation. As reported in the New York Times and other publications, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and CA Attorney General Rob Bonta, both Democrats, have said they think Florida Republican Gov. and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is responsible (DeSantis relocated migrants last year to Martha's Vineyard in protest of President Biden's immigration policies; and the state of Florida recently said it was intending to begin relocating migrants again). Newsom, yesterday, tweeted pointedly at DeSantis, implying the latter could be facing kidnapping charges; it remains unclear if California will actually take legal action, but Bonta said over the weekend his office was evaluating its legal options. As for New Mexico's involvement, Lauren Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Raúl Torrez, did not respond to an email query about whether New Mexico intended to investigate its pass-through role in the migrants’ relocation. In response to a similar query to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office, spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney provided a statement via email that said: "Gov. Lujan Grisham stresses, yet again, the urgent need for comprehensive, thoughtful federal immigration reform which is rooted in a humanitarian response that keeps border communities in mind."

Friendship Club of Santa Fe's new High Desert Sobriety podcast doesn't provide last names (12 steps at all), but we’ll break anonymity regarding a recent guest, Interfaith Community Shelter Executive Director Korina Lopez, who joins Sherman A. for a two-part conversation about what happens behind the scenes at Pete's Place; the challenges facing unhoused people; and the role addiction can play.

The Wall Street Journal explores "atomic tourism," in which folks explore "horrific but fascinating" locales connected to the United States’ nuclear history. Those spots include the White Sands Missile Range Museum, home of the first atomic bomb tests, which reportedly reopened in May to a record turnout, WSJ says. Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours offers a multi-state Manhattan Project Tour that includes not just White Sands, but The Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque; stops in Santa Fe to visit "infamous spy sites; and Los Alamos National Laboratory. While atomic tourism doesn't represent a new phenomena, interest tends to reignite in response to current events, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin's threats against Ukraine, as well as two forthcoming films on the topic: Wes Anderson's Asteroid City and Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer. "Whenever there is talk about nuking, people get interested in the atomic bomb," Michael Wiescher, a nuclear physicist at the University of Notre Dame says; enrollment in his "Nuclear War" course also rises when nuclear topics are in the news. And speaking of atomic tourism, early-bird pricing for former CIA agent Valerie Plame's annual Spies, Lies & Nukes conference (held in Santa Fe) runs through June 15.

We recently mentioned Albuquerque-based Seraparito Supply Co.'s green-chile/cedar/vanilla scented candle (and we’ve since acquired one; smells pretty nice), which received mention via Condé Nast's roundup of where to experience New Mexico's official aroma. But the smell of the Southwest extends far beyond just the scent of roasting green chile. As the New York Times reports, "the arid landscapes of the Southwest are fertile ground" for today's fragrance makers who are "attempting to translate the desert's resilient plants and otherworldly aura into fragrance." Case in point: Robin Moore and Cebastien Rose, founders of the Albuquerque-based perfume line Dryland Wilds, who travel into the wilderness to find and start the process. "We set up a tent that we put our perfuming equipment in and sleep by the fire," Rose tells the Times. Dryland Wilds’ most popular scent is a single-floral aroma—a soliflore—in this case made from piñon pine, described thusly: "Smell the wind and sun through New Mexico's ancient desert pines. This small batch extraction captures the sweet, fruity and deep caramelized notes of NM's beloved piñon." New Mexico, Rose says, "is obsessed with piñon. We burn it in the winter to keep warm, we harvest its nuts in fall and in the summer we cool off in its shade." Moore and Rose also gather piñon resin from the base of dead trees to make incense. "It's like our local version of frankincense," Moore says.

The National Weather Service forecasts a 60% chance for precipitation, with showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 3pm. Otherwise, it will be partly sunny, with a high temperature near 76 degrees and south wind 5 to 15 mph. Showers and thunderstorms also likely tonight, mostly before midnight. Quite a lot of hail in some parts of the state yesterday!

Thanks for reading! The Word enjoyed US Poet Laureate Ada Limón's poem "In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa"—which will be engraved on NASA's Europa Clipper mission spacecraft—so much she signed her name on to also travel 1.8 billion miles to Jupiter.