Ed Williams

Public Health New Mexico Reporter

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.

Ed Williams

On Monday, the governor announced a two-week program offering free vaccinations to children before school starts.

 The Department of Health will run the program with money from the state’s general fund to cover vaccinations for uninsured children.

Ed Williams

During the Cold War, the Navajo Nation found itself in the middle of a uranium mining boom. Today, more than 500 mines on the reservation are shut down or abandoned—but the pollution they left behind is still very much there. 

Washington and Jefferson College

People in Albuquerque are spending more of their paycheck​s​ on rent than ​people in places like New York ​and​ San Francisco​. We'll look at why people in the Duke City, and in parts of northern New Mexico, are spending so much on housing. ​Do you spend a large chunk of your ​paycheck​ on ​rent​?​ ​How does this impact your household budget? We'd like to hear from you! 

Jan Marlyn Reesman via Flickr

An environmental watchdog group is criticizing a decision by the state of New Mexico to join a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. The suit claims the EPA overreached its authority with a new rule that gives more streams and tributaries federal pollution protection.

Holtzman via Flickr

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich announced Monday that he will propose legislation to address poverty across multiple generations. 

Bernalillo County Commissioners voted to approve the Santolina development agreement in a contentious meeting Wednesday. The plan could bring about 40,000 new homes to a privately owned development on the West Mesa outside of Albuquerque.

The 3-to-2 vote to approve Santolina came after hours of debate over the language in the agreement. 

Protesters and acequia farmers sat through the hearing with tape over their mouths—a symbolic objection to the commission’s decision not to allow public comment.

Looking Within Report

Residents of McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico have long complained of health problems associated with uranium mining. A new study looks at the health impacts the uranium mining industry may have caused there.

Nearly 100 of the 520 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land are in McKinley County. That area is also home to the decades-old Church Rock Tailings Spill, one of the worst radioactive disasters in American history.

Bernalillo County rejected the application this week of a Florida company, Humic Growth Solutions, that wants to build a fertilizer plant next to a residential neighborhood south of Albuquerque.  

Zoning Administrator Juanita Garcia issued her decision Tuesday, saying the information the company provided in its application was too vague, and did not address the health and safety concerns of people living nearby.

US EPA

KUNM Call In Show 6/18 8a: 

There are well over 100 abandoned uranium mines in New Mexico, and most of them are on Navajo land. Many communities are still dealing with the health and environmental consequences of uranium contamination from mines that haven’t been cleaned up.

What has uranium mining meant for your community? What should the state, tribal and federal governments be doing to fix the problem?

We’ll be asking those questions this week and we'd like to hear from you! Email callinshow@kunm.org, post comments online or call in live during the show.  

Ed Williams

Bernalillo County is considering a Florida company’s proposal to build a fertilizer plant near a residential neighborhood. The proposal has neighbors worried about impacts to health and traffic.

The company, Humic Growth Solutions of Jacksonville, wants to manufacture humic acid fertilizer at the site of an old paint warehouse south of Albuquerque.

The property is zoned for heavy industry, but there are homes about 100 feet away. That has neighbors like Marisol Archuleta worried.

spartacus pustota via flickr

Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall joined 28 other Democratic senators and two independents in sending a letter Friday to the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They support new federal rules that would require lenders to check if customers could actually pay back their loans. The rules would also restrict the ways creditors could collect on debts.

Ed Williams

New Mexico’s first long-term addiction recovery center tailored specifically to teenagers and young adults, Serenity Mesa, opened its doors this week.

Up until now, youth in the state who are struggling with addiction could go to detox, short-term rehab, or jail, but then they get released without continuing support. Serenity Mesa founder Jen Weiss says that’s led to a lot of relapses.

Ed Williams

It’s a peaceful scene on the banks of the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque, with ducks paddling on the slow moving current and the breeze rustling the willows at the water’s edge. But not all is well with the river, says Rich Schrader of the conservation group River Source. He’s out analyzing water samples with students, and there’ve been some troubling results—mainly, the turbidity, or murkiness, of the water.

Ed Williams

Stormwater is a major source of pollution in the Rio Grande. The U.S. Geological Survey released a nine-year study of stormwater in the Albuquerque area last week, finding high concentrations of pollutants in the city’s arroyos.

Andy Magee via Flickr

Some of the money from the Department of Energy’s settlement with New Mexico following a radiation leak at a nuclear waste storage facility last year will go to address stormwater issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

Geologue via Flickr

An environmental law firm in Santa Fe is petitioning the state Supreme Court to overturn a law that allows copper mines to pollute groundwater. 

As the law stands, companies can allow toxic drainage to seep into the groundwater beneath their copper mines, as long as the pollution stays within a designated perimeter. But New Mexico Environmental Law Center director Douglas Meiklejohn says that’s a violation of the state’s Water Quality Act.

Ed Williams

    

Santiago Maestas has been growing fruits and vegetables on a small plot of land in the South Valley for over 40 years. He's standing by a centuries-old acequia near Isleta Boulevard south of Albuquerque—a modest, earthen ditch carrying slow-moving irrigation water away from the Rio Grande and into fields and gardens.

Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show 5/7 8a: 

Bernalillo County commissioners are considering a residential development plan to build almost 40,000 new homes west of Albuquerque. Developers say it’s a smart, efficient way to plan for population growth and boost the local economy—but critics say it will hurt public health and burden dwindling water supplies. We’ll talk with Santolina’s planning team, public health researchers and South Valley farmers. 

Mark Bray via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The sound of city garbage trucks cruising the streets is familiar to most of us. But it’s a sound many people in Albuquerque’s North Valley are worried they’ll be hearing too much of, if the city’s proposal to build a trash center here goes through. Neighbors like Peggy Norton say the plan is a threat to the surrounding area.

Ed Williams-KUNM

About one hundred people showed up to a City of Albuquerque public meeting Tuesday on a proposal to build a trash transfer center in the North Valley.

Under the proposal garbage trucks would drop the city’s trash at a 75,000 square foot waste transfer station at the corner of Edith and Griegos - then larger trucks would haul the trash off to the dump.

Jane Foster lives in the neighborhood and, like many who attended, says she worries the plan will harm people living nearby.

KUNM Reporting Series

Apr 15, 2015

The Rio Grande runs through three states, and all along the way communities use the river’s waters for drinking, crop irrigation, and for Native American religious ceremonies. But with New Mexico’s biggest urban centers and military bases—and the substantial pollution they generate—near to the riverbanks, how safe is the Rio Grande for people and wildlife?

KUNM

This week Governor Susana Martinez signed a pair of bills aimed at addressing New Mexico’s nurse shortage by making more financial aid available for educators. 

Registered nurses who will become medical instructors can now use the Nurse Educators Fund to get a higher degree.

Ed Williams

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority announced Wednesday that it’s building more backup safety systems at the wastewater treatment plant following a massive spill of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande.

Wild Earth Guardians via flickr

Mora County was the first county in the United States to ban the practice of fracking. But, last week, commissioners there unanimously voted to overturn the ban.

Last week’s vote repealed a 2013 ordinance passed by the county commission that said fracking was a violation of the community’s right to clean air and water.

Intel Free Press / Wikimedia Commons

KUNM Call In Show 4/2 8a:

With high rates of illnesses like diabetes or addiction, rural New Mexicans have some of the most pressing medical needs in the state. But those same residents have the most trouble getting the health care they need. We'll dig into the health needs in rural New Mexico and explore how the Internet is being used to fill some gaps.

We'd like to hear from you! Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments online or call in live during the show. 

Guests: 

Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

wcn227 via Flickr

The Obama administration announced broad new federal regulations of hydraulic fracturing last week. The rules will only apply to drilling on public land — which in New Mexico accounts for around half of all oil and gas operations.

The new regulations announced by the Interior Department allow for federal inspections of drill sites and require public disclosure of fracking chemicals, among other things.   

Thomas Quine via Flickr

  

The city of Albuquerque will award over $2 million in contracts to five local nonprofits to fund mental health, homelessness and hunger programs. 

Half a million dollars of the city’s funding will pay for housing programs run by Health Care For the Homeless and the Supportive Housing Coalition. Anita Córdova is with Healthcare for the Homeless.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant spilled nearly 6 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande last Friday. Public Health New Mexico’s Ed Williams reports there was an equipment failure at one of the plant’s pumping facilities.

Officials with the Southside Wastewater Reclamation Plant say there was a spike in power during last week’s heavy snowstorm. That power spike disabled a pump station.

Plant Operations Manager Charles Leder says backup systems should have protected the facility from power fluctuations.

Ed Williams

High interest, small dollar loans are abundant in New Mexico. Businesses offer quick cash payments for people who need money right away. But the interest rates on these loans can be as high as two thousand percent, and many people are unable to pay them off.   

This is especially true in the state's low-income communities. Statewide, storefront lending businesses outnumber fast food chain restaurants.

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