WQCC Rules and Responsibilities
The basic authority for water quality management in New Mexico is provided through the Water Quality Act (NMSA 1978, §§ 74-6-1 to 74-6-17). This law establishes the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC, Commission) and specifies its duties and powers. The Commission is the state water pollution control agency for all purposes of the federal Clean Water Act along with the wellhead protection (New Mexico’s wellhead protection program is encompassed by the voluntary program called the Sourcewater Protection Program which operates through the Environment Department’s Drinking Water Bureau) and sole source aquifer programs established in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The Commission’s authority is codified in NMSA 1978, § 74-6-3.E.
For more information on the Clean Water Act see the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) summary.
For more information on the Safe Drinking Water Act see EPA’s website.
For more information on drinking water protection as outlined by the EPA, please see their website.
The duties and powers of the commission include adoption of a comprehensive water quality management program, the development of a continuing planning process, the administration of loans and grants from the federal government, the adoption of water quality standards (codified in 20.6.4 NMAC), and the adoption of regulations “to prevent or abate water pollution in the state or in any specific geographic area or watershed of the state…or for any class of waters.” Under the Water Quality Act, water is defined as all water, including water situated wholly or partly within or bordering upon the state, whether surface or subsurface, public or private, except private waters that do not combine with other surface or subsurface water. See NMSA 1978, § 74-6-2.H.
The administration and enforcement of the New Mexico Utility Operator Certification Act (NMSA 1978, §§ 61-33-1 to 61-33-10) is also vested in the Water Quality Control Commission. See NMSA 1978, § 61-33-4. The commission may further delegate to the Environment Department the administration and enforcement of the Utility Operator Certification Act except: (1) the adoption of regulations; and (2) the conducting of hearings on compliance orders. See NMSA 1978, § 61-33-10.