NM WRRI, NMED Co-host Early Input Workshop for the New Mexico Nonpoint Source Management Plan
By Mark Sheely, NM WRRI Program Specialist
The majority of surface water quality problems identified in New Mexico are caused by nonpoint source (NPS) water pollution. As the runoff from rainfall and snowmelt moves over and through the ground, it picks up natural and human-caused pollutants and deposits them into rivers, lakes, wetlands, and groundwater. Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act requires states to assess NPS pollution and develop management programs to control the sources identified.
The NPS Management Program helps New Mexico meet its surface water quality standards to protect designated uses and groundwater quality for municipal, domestic, and agricultural uses. To this end, according to the most recent NPS Management Plan from 2019, “the NPS Management Program emphasizes watershed-based planning as a means of coordinating watershed restoration efforts, fostering watershed associations, and encouraging partnership among agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the public.”
The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI), in cooperation with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), hosted a virtual interactive workshop on January 18 to discuss and provide input to update the New Mexico NPS Management Program. Ninety participants from numerous agencies and organizations attended the workshop to provide input that will inform the revision of New Mexico’s program for managing NPS pollution, which is being undertaken by NMED’s Surface Water Quality Bureau. Throughout the day-long virtual workshop, attendees discussed the current NPS Management Plan, heard presentations on new NPS management initiatives, and participated in a series of breakout group discussions and interactive polling exercises.
Leading the facilitation of the workshop were NM WRRI contractor and natural resources consultant Nikki Dictson and NMED Watershed Protection Section manager Abe Franklin. Additional breakout facilitation and virtual whiteboard notetaking were provided by staff from NMED, NM WRRI, and volunteers from other agencies with NPS management activities. By engaging in the breakout and polling exercises, workshop participants helped to identify and rank existing and potential new activities NMED could build upon and implement into the next NPS management plan.
The input from the workshop will be compiled into a report and provided to workshop participants for comment.
 New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission. 2018. 2018-2020 State of New Mexico Clean Water Act §303(d)/§305(b) Integrated Report.