New Mexico Lawmakers To Look At Water Rules In Wake Of SCOTUS Ruling
Environmental officials say in the wake of the US Supreme Court decision to roll back regulations of the Clean Water Act, New Mexico will need to greatly expand a water permitting program.
The Supreme Court’s ruling says the EPA’s wetlands regulatory jurisdiction is limited to wetlands with a continuous surface water connection.
New Mexico is one of only three states that doesn’t have the authority to implement and administer the federal program that controls water pollution through the permit process.
With the SCOTUS ruling the state is now looking at the state’s permitting program.
Water Protection Division Director John Roderick on Tuesday told members of the Water and Natural Resources Interim Committee the state needs to sharply expand a Water Quality Permitting Program.
But he says it will take some time to get it fully implemented.
“We are looking at achieving primacy which would allow us to take over for the EPA which means ultimately we need to take all that on,” he said. “We are evaluating the potential to do this in increments and when I say that we’re on track to have regulations before WQCC (Water Quality Control Commision) in 2025 if you look at the overall layout of this implementation. It’s going to take about seven years to fully stand up the program.”
Roderick told committee members he’ll eventually need to hire 44 FTE to staff the permitting program.
Program costs are anticipated to be $5.9 million a year which is about ten times the current funding.
At full implementation, NMED would fund the program through a combination of permit application fees and annual fees, and possibly supplement with general fund.