Free New Mexican:Court upholds water ruling
The state Court of Appeals last week unanimously confirmed a state Water Quality Control Commission's decision that all New Mexico's waters are subject to federal water quality standards.
The ruling is a victory for the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission, which in 2005 decided all streams, rivers and lakes in the state are subject to the federal Clean Water Act, regardless of how the federal government defined those waters. ``This landmark decision allows the state to define the scope of its surface water quality standards. We are no longer tied to federal rollbacks that leave our waters vulnerable,'' said state Environment Secretary Ron Curry on Monday.
It's also a victory for Amigos Bravos, the New Mexico Acequia Association, the Sierra Club and other groups who joined the state in its legal fight to keep the protections.
The commission's 2005 decision was appealed by the New Mexico Mining Association, New Mexico Home Builders Association, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, New Mexico Wool Growers Inc., Chino Mines Company and Phelps Dodge Tyrone, Inc.
The 1972 Clean Water Act set standards to protect rivers and other water bodies around the nation from various types of pollution.