We are entering a critical period for New Mexico’s waters. A long-term drought is likely being exacerbated by global warming. The aquifers that urban areas along the Río Grande used for drinking water are being drawn down at an alarming rate, so cities are turning to the already over-allocated river for drinking water. Emerging wastewater science has shown that urban wastewater treatment plants are adding daily doses of pharmaceuticals and personal care products to downstream water users, in addition to increased nutrient loading with phosphates, ammonia, and nitrates. Mining and industrial pollution is infiltrating rivers and groundwater drinking supplies, and the Bush administration's actions to drastically weaken the Clean Water Act continue to hamper our ability to safeguard our waters.
To meet these threats to our health and the health of our rivers and waters, Amigos Bravos has embarked on a full-scale assault against both local polluters and the federal administration’s rule changes. The key components of this effort are broad-based engagement of affected communities, carefully planned and targeted public and media outreach campaigns, and strong advocacy efforts in the New Mexico legislature, the state courts, and Congress.
An important part of the work of Amigos Bravos includes translating our experience and knowledge-gained to the beneficial use of local watershed and acequia groups and other organizations doing water-related work. Doing so enhances their capacity for success and increases the likelihood our own efforts take hold and multiply the reach and impact of the funding we receive.
Amigos Bravos works with a very wide range of stakeholders – local communities, farmers, ranchers, acequia associations, Pueblos, sportsmen, environmental groups, government agencies, technical and legal experts, and other professionals. Amigos Bravos was a founding and principal member of a number of coalitions including the Citizen Agenda for Rivers, the Río Chama Coalition, the Rio Grande Río Bravo Basin Coalition, the Río Pueblo Río Embudo Watershed Protection Coalition, the Red River Watershed Association, the Taos County Noxious Weed Committee, the Rio Grande Alliance, the Alliance for the Río Grande Heritage, Westerners for Responsible Mining, the New Mexico Mining Act Network , the Mining Impacts Communications Alliance, and the Coalition for the Valle Vidal.
Recognizing that the environmental community was increasingly marginalized by the very same land-based communities that Amigos Bravos wanted to work with, we incorporated environmental and social justice into our mission in the early stages of our development as an organization. Building on that commitment we initiated the Somos Vecinos project to facilitate dialogue between the environmental and indigenous communities. This led to a current coalition of environmental and social justice organizations. Taking that work one step further we are now implementing projects that maximize the effectiveness of an environmental movement that includes a broad spectrum of civil society.
We firmly believe that this grounding in local community and land-based organizations, combined with our pragmatic agenda of movement building to restore, protect, and sustain our State’s rivers, streams, and water is what sets Amigos Bravos apart. It is just such an approach that will build a broad based movement to preserve our health, cultures, recreational opportunities, and livelihoods for generations to come.