Building Community Capacity
Clean Water Circuit Rider
Amigos Bravos Projects Director, Rachel Conn, with support from others on the staff, assists communities across the state to use the Clean Water Act to protect and restore their rivers. The goal of the Clean Water Circuit RiderProgram is to increase the capacity of New Mexico communities to address issues of environmental injustice, restore watershed health, and clean up polluted river systems. The Circuit Rider Program is designed to help communities develop and implement strategic plans to protect their health. We do this by training community members in the use of the Clean Water Act, and providing technical assistance to communities faced with chronic water pollution issues, emergency toxic spills, or emerging threats from industrial development.
Our Clean Water Circuit Rider Program “translates” the Clean Water Act’s complex technical and regulatory language for local officials, grassroots organizations, and the public. As communities make a request for assistance, the Circuit Rider meets with interested parties to hear local concerns and explain which aspects of the CWA might be most helpful for addressing the specific issues of concern. Then, using her own expertise and that of others at Amigos Bravos – in concert with our network of technical and legal resources and input from the community – the Circuit Rider helps develop and implement an appropriate strategy for addressing the community’s issue. This strategy applies whether pollution is occurring from mining, stormwater runoff, or wastewater dumping, and is also used to prepare a community for the task of effectively navigating a state or federally imposed permitting process.
The Clean Water Circuit Rider provides affected communities with an innovative method of cleaning up polluted rivers and provides a model for similar action nationwide.
Activities conducted include:
- Clean Water Act policy and regulatory issues
- Clean Water Act training and watershed organization capacity building
- Technical assistance developing Watershed Restoration Action Strategies (WRAS) and assistance with water quality standards for local waters and other permitting processes
- River Otter restoration and other native species issues
The Amigos Bravos Strategic Plan is a living document that undergoes refinement as circumstances change and opportunities present themselves. The Strategic Plan is conceived as a pool flexible enough to hold the needs of evolving and emerging issues. To view the new 2014-2018 Strategic Plan here.
In preparing this strategic plan, Amigos Bravos held a three-day strategic planning retreat at the Ghost Ranch Conference Center in May 2013. Facilitated by Martha Quintana, past president and long time Board member of Amigos Bravos, 33 participants from diverse backgrounds and communities reviewed Amigos Bravos’ ongoing work and identified opportunities and priorities for the next five years.
The Advisory Council provided numerous recommendations for how Amigos Bravos can continue to build on past successes and current commitments, with the understanding that the work of the next five years will be foreshadowed by climate change and the Martinez Administration’s push for rollbacks of environmental policy. The overarching recommendation was for Amigos Bravos to continue doing the work we are already doing, but begin to calculate the water-energy nexus in relation to each of our projects, and include information about what we find in our literature, public announcements, and in our decision-making processes, with the concerted aim to reduce impacts from climate change.
Top recommendations include:
- Develop a set of New Mexico Water/Energy Principals that provide the criteria through which to analyze impacts on water resources from current and future industrial, municipal, and governmental operations.
- Produce educational and advocacy recommendations to address the water/energy nexus, which is defined as the relationship between the amount of water used in energy production and the amount of energy used in that production to process and transport water. These recommendations will provide the basis for future
Amigos Bravos 2014-18 Strategic Plan 3 work to develop water conservation policies and to educate the public on best management practices for household water use.
- Increase use of the arts and social media to build on our capacity to engage the
public in both behavioral and policy change, especially in relationship to reducing
contamination and the water use footprint.
- Continue to work collaboratively in coalitions and provide technical assistance and Clean Water Act trainings to individuals and communities who wish to protect and restore waters in their own backyards.
- Continue our work to restore the upper watersheds, with the aim to raise the water table and decrease siltation.
- Continue our work to reduce polluted runoff by developing policies and incentives that promote Low Impact Development (LID) and Green Infrastructure (GI) stormwater controls
Arts and Activism
Artists hold the potential to bring creative energy to issues and redefine public space in ways that stymie the scientist or the environmentalist and change the matter of fact. They are able to expose pertinent questions and bring light to issues by merely putting a new perspective on them without implying judgement or shame, thus safely bringing together wide and diverse interest and attention.
Through our Arts and Activism campaign, we are engaging the extensive, established art community in Taos to inspire environmentally-friendly change. Please see our Arts and Activism for project specific information.